By: Matthew Ginder, Partner
On April 16, 2020, the
Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (“FDACS”) announced that it received approval from the USDA for Florida’s hemp program. With nothing else in its way (not even COVID-19), FDACS is poised to accept applications for hemp cultivation beginning on April 27, 2020. Hemp Cultivation Applications
Hemp cultivation permits will be issued by FDACS to all applicants who meet the State’s requirements. The application has already been released and can be found here:
Application for License to Cultivate Hemp_FDACS-08112. Notably, it requires applicants seeking to cultivate hemp to submit a completed application that includes information and materials regarding the following:
Hemp may only be cultivated on lands that are: (a) used primarily for bona fide agricultural purposes, (b) located within an area zoned for agricultural or industrial use, or (c) at a nursery as defined in Florida law (hereinafter, “Qualified Property”). Applicants with a Qualified Property must provide to FDACS a detailed description of each location intended for the cultivation of hemp, including address, legal land description, tax parcel number, and GPS coordinates.
In an apparent effort to mitigate the cultivation of marijuana under the guise of hemp, Florida law requires specific individuals involved with hemp cultivation to pass a criminal background check. In particular, all individuals who possess the power to direct the management or policies (called a “Control Person”) and who control or manage the day to day operations (called a “Responsible Person”) of the applying company must pass a criminal background check. A Control Person or Responsible Person who has been convicted of a felony relating to a controlled substance under state or federal law within 10 years will be denied a hemp cultivation permit by FDACS.
FDACS views hemp as a potentially invasive plant species and a threat to other plants if not properly controlled. As a result, FDACS requires each applicant to submit an environmental containment plan for each contiguous area where the same variety or strain of hemp is cultivated (referred to as the “Lot”). An environmental containment plan must include: (a) a containment system of silt fences, berms, or fallow areas consisting of bare earth or ground cover to prevent the hemp from spreading beyond the Lot, (b) a plan to clean any equipment used on the Lot of all debris before it is moved from the property, and (c) a transportation and movement plan that ensures that hemp – including live plants, processed and unprocessed material, and propagative parts – is covered and moved in full containment during transport from noncontiguous locations.
If you would like to learn more about Florida’s hemp program and how you or your business might participate, please contact Matthew Ginder,