‘A new cash crop’: Florida readies for billion-dollar hemp market

Fresh from entering the medical marijuana market, Florida now envisions taking a healthy slice of the anticipated $22 billion market in hemp. The “no-high” variety of cannabis used to make “CBD,” oil and other products derived from hemp, became legal in the U.S. in December.

Demand for CBD products — thought to help with anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain — has been swelling nationwide. The newly passed 2018 Farm Bill made hemp legal on a federal level and removed hemp from the “controlled substances” list.

Now, all businesses need is the green light: Florida nurseries, licensed producers of medical marijuana, and hemp growers in other states are eager to produce hemp in the state.

“Farmers are hungry for a new cash crop,” said David Hasenauer, president of the Tallahassee-based Hemp Industries Association of Florida. “We have an incredible climate here in the Sunshine State. We need that intensity to grow these plants — and we have it year around. Florida stands to uniquely benefit [from hemp].”