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Lawmaker Eyes Industrial Hemp Programs

Florida House of Representatives
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Pointing to a crop for Florida's agriculture industry and the potential for new jobs, a House Republican on Friday proposed allowing state colleges and universities to start industrial hemp programs.

Rep. Ralph Massullo, R-Lecanto, filed the proposal (HB 1217) for consideration during the legislative session that starts Tuesday. Under the proposal, colleges and universities that have agriculture schools would be able to establish programs that would involve researching, growing, processing and selling industrial hemp.

The boards of trustees at the colleges and universities would decide whether to establish the hemp programs.

"As a food crop, industrial hemp seeds and oil produced from the seeds have high nutritional value, including healthy fats and proteins," the bill says. "As a fiber crop, industrial hemp can be used in the manufacture of products such as clothing, building supplies and animal bedding. As a fuel crop, industrial hemp seeds can be processed into biodiesel and stalks can be pelletized or flaked for burning or processed for cellulosic ethanol."