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Industrial hemp bill re-filed for next session

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State Sen. Jeff Clemens has again filed a bill allowing the cultivation of industrial hemp, the fiber of the cannabis plant that’s used to make fabrics, paper and rope.

The bill (SB 554) was submitted Monday.

Because hemp is related to marijuana, it’s banned in the states. But the level of THC – the chemical that causes a high – is virtually zero in hemp.

Last year, the bill died in the Appropriations Committee.

“I understand there are negative connotations, but people have to understand this is just another product that people can grow and make a profit on,” said Clemens, a Lake Worth Democrat.

The bill would require hemp growers to register with the state Department of Agriculture and attest that the hemp they will grow comes from seeds with “no more than 0.3 percent” THC.

Growers also would have to submit to “inspection of the hemp during sowing, growing, harvest, storage, processing, manufacturing, and distribution operations,” the bill says.

Hemp has been estimated to be a potential $150 million to $200 million cash crop in Florida, proponents say.

Before joining Florida Politics, journalist and attorney James Rosica was state government reporter for The Tampa Tribune. He attended journalism school in Washington, D.C., working at dailies and weekly papers in Philadelphia after graduation. Rosica joined the Tallahassee Democrat in 1997, later moving to the courts beat, where he reported on the 2000 presidential recount. In 2005, Rosica left journalism to attend law school in Philadelphia, afterwards working part time for a public-interest law firm. Returning to writing, he covered three legislative sessions in Tallahassee for The Associated Press, before joining the Tribune’s re-opened Tallahassee bureau in 2013. He can be reached at jim@floridapolitics.com.

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