UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project

UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project

Frequently Asked Questions

 

These answers are current as of: 5 March 2019

For updates, please subscribe to our newsletter. For questions and comments, email hemp@ifas.ufl.edu.

The legal and regulatory framework for hemp is undergoing a nationwide transformation and it may seem that there are more questions than clear answers. The following list of FAQs attempts to provide the most accurate answers currently available from the UF Industrial Hemp Pilot Project.

Hemp in Florida

General Hemp questions

UF Pilot Program

Other Important Clarifications

Definitions of common hemp terminology

 

Hemp in Florida

IS HEMP LEGAL TO GROW IN FLORIDA ON PRIVATE FARMS?

No. Currently, Industrial hemp planting permits are only available to the state’s two land-grant universities, UF and Florida A&M University. UF has obtained industrial hemp permits from FDACS to proceed with import of hemp materials, cultivation and research.

IS CBD LEGAL IN FLORIDA?

UF does not take a position on the legality of CBD in Florida. Currently, we do not have clear and consistent guidance from state and federal regulatory agencies or state and federal law enforcement on its legal status. We are actively seeking clarification on this matter regarding the current status of CBD and the expected status following the 2018 Farm Bill.

WHEN WILL A PRIVATE PERSON, BUSINESS, OR ENTITY BE PERMITTED TO GROW HEMP IN FLORIDA?

A recent statement by the USDA declares their "intention to issue regulations in the Fall of 2019 to accommodate the 2020 planting season." This is in response to the 2018 Farm Bill that directs the USDA to establish a process to regulate hemp at the state level through each state’s Department of Agriculture. The state of Florida and FDACS will have to update the rules and regulations to allow private production of hemp or adopt the federal regulations. FDACS has openned an Office of Cannabis that is drafting a state hemp plan in response to the new Farm Bill. As it stands we will opperate under the laws and regulations defined by the 2014 Farm Bill process.

HOW DO I GET A HEMP PERMIT?

Currently, private farms and businesses cannot get a hemp permit in Florida. The permitting process is being established by FDACS in their draft hemp plant to be submitted to USDA for a 2019 review. The UF hemp program is not accepting applications to permit private farms. 

General Hemp questions

HOW IS HEMP DIFFERENT FROM MARIJUANA?

Hemp and marijuana are the same plant species, Cannabis sativa. They are legally distinguished based on their THC content. THC is the psychoactive compound associated with 'getting high'. Hemp is Cannabis sativa with a THC content that does not exceed 0.3% by dry weight, while marijuana is Cannabis sativa with a THC content greater than 0.3%. The 0.3% THC threshold is defined by state and federal laws. Hemp is used for seed, fiber, oil, construction materials, and non-THC cannabinoids. Some hemp varieties can be high in CBD. Hemp and marijuana may also be called Cannabis indica or Cannabis ruderalis, which are biologically synonymous terms for Cannabis sativa. More accurately indica and ruderalis denote subspecies.

WHAT IS CBD?

CBD is the abbreviation for Cannabidiol. CBD is a one of many cannabinoid compounds found in Cannabis plants. Some hemp and marijuana have a high concentration of CBD. CBD has several well-established medical purposes.

WHAT EXACTLY DID THE 2018 FARM BILL CHANGE FOR HEMP?

Although many news articles reacting to the Farm Bill proclaim “Hemp is Now Legal,” the bill does NOT say everyone is free to start growing/selling/possessing hemp- far from it. Hemp is still going be regulated. Until the USDA responds to the 2018 Farm Bill each state will operate under the laws and regulations put in place by the 2014 Farm Bill process. Industrial hemp planting permits as per the 2014 Farm Bill are still limited to UF and Florida A&M University.

The 2018 Farm Bill defines hemp as an agricultural commodity. It is also reclassifies hemp with regards to the Controlled Substances Act administered by the US DEA. This offers hemp farmers access to financing and crop insurance and removes trade barriers across state lines. The Farm Bill also describes regulation of hemp production at the state level. The Department of Agriculture for any state interested in growing hemp may submit their plan to the USDA or obtain approval from the state legislature. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) is drafting a state hemp plan in response to the 2018 Farm Bill.

UF Pilot Program

CAN A PRIVATE ENTITY VOLUNTEER LAND FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA’S HEMP TRIALS?

No. Currently all UF hemp research will be conducted on UF property. We have chosen several research stations in diverse locations across the state. UF will be restricting trials to its own property for the foreseeable future.

CAN UF GROW HEMP AND THEN SELL/DONATE HEMP PRODUCTS?

No. For the time being, all research materials are required to be destroyed after our trials. We may partner with industry groups for quality testing and product development, but these products would also need to be destroyed.

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE INDUSTRIAL HEMP PILOT PROJECT DOING?

The UF/IFAS Industrial Hemp Pilot Project is working to identify varieties and planting recommendations that can be profitable for growers and environmentally responsible. Florida's climate and markets are very different from other places growing and selling hemp. Most hemp seed and plant materials on the market are adapted to those places, so we have to start with variety trials to find marketable hemp that grows well in Florida’s diverse soils, climates, latitudes. Economic research is being conducted to find the input costs of growing hemp, expectations of hemp’s market value, and a breakeven point to recommend when hemp is an ideal crop. Additionally, we are conducting a study for risk of invasiveness. Our research plan is further described throughout the site and is available on the resources page. The pilot project will plant its first seed in 2019.

IS THE INVASIVE RISK STUDY GOING TO BE A HOLD UP TO PRODUCTION? SO LONG AS IT GROWS WELL AND SELLS WELL, WHO CARES?

Invasions of non-native plant species are a significant ecological and economic problem for the state of Florida. Invasive plants affect biodiversity and ecosystem function and, each year, the state spends tens of millions of dollars on invasive plant management. To reduce the threat of non-native plant invasions, the UF/IFAS Assessment of Non-native Plants in Florida’s Natural Areas conducts risk assessment of non-native plant species new to the state of Florida or proposed for new uses. Data for the risk assessments come from published information related to the biology and ecology of individual species. Hemp scores in the 'high invasion risk' category because of what is known about its ability to escape and colonize natural areas outside of cultivation in other states and countries.

It is the role of the Industrial Hemp Pilot Project to better understand how hemp grows in the unique climate of Florida with limited and strictly monitored plantings. We do not intend for this process to be a hold up to the industry, but invasion risk is a serious concern that must be addressed. This study is our due diligence given the hugely impactful problem of plant invasions in the state. Our work will further assess the potential invasion of hemp into natural alreas and inform best management practices for hemp plantings and seed transportation to reduce invasion risk.

WHAT DIRECTION WILL RESEARCH BE EXPANDED TO WITH ADDITIONAL FUNDING?

We are interested in hemp for plant extracts, propagation, indoors grow, and other areas of research outside the scope of our current budget in support of the Florida hemp industry. We are actively looking for project sponsors to provide funds and direction for our project development.

HOW MANY ACRES WILL WE BE GROWING THE FIRST YEAR?

Not many. The research plots will not be measured in acres – they will be much smaller.  Hemp planting will be evaluated in replicated small scale plots.  From the small plots we will be able to extrapolate expected yields.

Other Important Clarifications

WILL THERE BE INSECT PESTS OR DISEASES IN THE FLORIDA HEMP?

Probably. We do not intend to spray our trails with any type of chemical controls, unless necessary to rescue the planting. Over the trial seasons we will be assessing our hemp stands for all possible metrics of health, including for insect pests and diseases. Future studies may include control trials for issues we find in the first field season.

FLORIDA GREW SOME HEMP UP TO WWII. WHY CAN’T WE JUST GROW THAT HEMP?

The hemp market up to the 1940s was oriented around an exceptional demand for fiber to supply the US and allies with cordage and durable canvases. Information about varieties grown then for fiber in that economy are not readily transferrable to the contemporary market for oil, seed, cannabinoids, and specialty fiber today.

HOW IS IT LEGAL TO GROW SUNN HEMP WITHOUT A PERMIT?

Sunn hemp (Crotalaria juncea) is not actually hemp or even related to Cannabis. This cover crop was used in India as a source for fiber, so it has ‘hemp’ in its common name.  It is in the legume family with alfalfa. Sunn hemp has no cannabinoids.

Definitions of Common Hemp Terminology

Autoflowering – When a plant flowers as it reaches a certain size or age – daylight independent.  Some hemp are autoflowering.

Bast – The long, high-quality fiber that run lengthwise in a hemp plant

Cannabinoids – A class of over 100 naturally occurring secondary metabolites found in Cannabis (and some other plants) synthesized from the same Olivetolic acid and GPP. Some cannabinoids are associated with psychotropic and medicinal effects.

Cannabis – Botanically speaking, ‘Cannabis’ is a genus. Although there are multiple distinct genetic backgrounds of Cannabis (sativa, indica, ruderalis, and more depending on where you read), most botanists currently classify all those backgrounds into the same species: Cannabis sativa L. In spoken English, ‘cannabis’ is an accurate common name for marijuana and hemp, just as ‘corn’ (aka Zea mays) refers to sweetcorn, popcorn, and field corn. That said, in industry vernacular some folks still use ‘cannabis’ to refer to just marijuana or medicinal hemp.

CBD - Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid that has several well-established medical purposes. Some hemp and marijuana have a high concentration of CBD.

Decorticate – the process of stripping bast fiber from stems

Dioecious – When individuals in a plant population are strictly male or female – each plant has only pollen producing flowers or seed producing flowers. Most populations of cannabis are dioecious.

Hemp oil – The vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of a hemp plant. This is distinguished from hemp essential oil (or CBD) oil that is extracted from flowers.

Hermaphrodite – Having both male and female reproductive organs in the SAME flower, which can produce both pollen and seed. Most plant species have only hermaphrodite flowers. Hermaphrodite flowers occasionally can be found of otherwise female cannabis.

Hurd – The woody, central pith section of hemp stem. This ‘byproduct’ is used in Hempcrete, animal bedding, and other alternatives to wood pulp.

Indica - Cannabis indica or Cannabis sativa var. indica refers to a genetic background of cannabis that had been crossed into marijuana.

Monoecious – When individual plants have SEPARATE male and female unisexual flowers in the same plant – not like hermaphrodite.  Here the plant still has unisexual flowers, but of both sexes separately in the same individual plant.  For example, corn tassels are male and corn ears are female. Some hemp varieties are monoecious.

Photoperiod – The hours of sunlight in a day required for the plant to grow in leafy, vegetative phase (not flowering). After that seasonal daylengths change from the required photoperiod, the plants will flower. Plants have photoperiodic flowering to stop them from flowering before they are ready.  Most hemp varieties requite over 14 hours of light per day do delay flowering. They then flower after summer when the days get shorter.

RuderalisCannabis ruderalis or Cannabis sativa var. ruderalis refers to a low THC genetic background of cannabis that is autoflowering.

Sativa - Cannabis sativa or Cannabis sativa var. sativa refers to a genetic background of cannabis that is most associated with hemp and marijuana.

THC – Tetrahydrocannabinol is a cannabinoid most associated with the psychotropic ‘high’ effect of marijuana.