Senate Agriculture Chairman Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, has pushed state health officials to move forward with the license. Black farmers have argued for years that it will be harder for them to compete in the medical marijuana market as existing operators have built their businesses and flourished.
Jeff Sharkey, founder of the state Medical Marijuana Business Association, called the Black farmer application an improvement over previous iterations of applications.
Applications will be accepted at a Department of Health office in Tallahassee between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. during a five-day window that has not been identified.
“But I’m glad it’s out. The next step is to determine its efficacy and really take a hard look at the opportunity. And I’m reminded still that it took a long time to get to this point, and we don’t need a long time in awarding a license,” he said.
Although the rule and application published Thursday deal only with the Black farmer license, they are viewed as a template for the rest of the licenses due to come online. Existing licenses in Florida routinely sell for upwards of $50 million.
The application released Thursday includes a point system for evaluation and detailed instructions. Applications will be scored on issues such as plans for cultivation, processing, dispensing and security, as well as issues such as certified financial documents and available funding.
The law also requires the Black farmer applicants to have conducted business in Florida for at least five years and have valid certificates of registration as nurseries from the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.
“There will certainly be a lot of interest in this particular rule, given that it foreshadows what the department will likely expect in the next application process in which far more licenses are available,” McKee said.
Uses for Hemp
Besides completing the application with the FDACS, you need to complete a background check and submit the results of the test with our application. You must also provide certain information about the cultivation site, including GPS coordinates of the location. Additionally, you need to provide documents and information on the storage, containment, and transportation of hemp. An important note is that a conviction related to a controlled substance within 10 years of applying will disqualify applicants.
Unfortunately, as of March 2020, only two entities in Florida have industrial permits to lawfully grow hemp: the University of Florida and Florida A&M University (the two land-grant universities in Florida). However, you may still apply for a license with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS). The state is currently waiting on the USDA (federal department of agriculture) to issue regulations on growing hemp, but you can still apply for a license while guidance is pending.
The THC threshold for hemp products in Florida is set at 0.35 percent. It can be challenging to find a plant that doesn’t cross this limit, as well as finding one that can grow in Florida’s climate. Constant testing can ensure your hemp stays on the lawful side, but administering tests can be expensive.
Until the USDA approves the Florida Hemp Plan, private farmers will not have a permit to grow and cultivate hemp. Once the pilot program gets the green light, though, you will be able to begin your next commercial enterprise.