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~Florida Organic Growers Stance on Hemp and Medical and Recreational Marijuana~

Background:

Cannabis, both as hemp and marijuana, has proven itself as a beneficial agricultural product. Hemp has long been used across the world as a viable and sustainable option for textiles and industrial products. Cannabis provides a multitude of medicinal benefits from the alleviation of chronic pain to reducing anxiety. Opening up the hemp and marijuana industry has the potential to bring in billions of dollars in sales and create hundreds of thousands of jobs across the United States.

Florida Organic Growers (FOG) has long been in support of the legalization of cannabis in both forms. Our founding visionaries understood the importance of cannabis early on and we have largely been in support of regulations and bills that bring us closer to the legalization of cannabis, while also protecting Florida consumers and our environment.

Support of Bill # CS/CS/HB 333:

House Bill 333 proposes a state hemp program aimed at creating a legal and regulated hemp industry that promotes the cultivation, processing and selling of hemp and hemp products. The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the list of controlled substances which makes it now federally legal to grow and sell hemp. Hemp, according to the Farm Bill, cannot contain more than 0.3 percent THC. The Farm Bill also asserts that state departments of agriculture must devise a plan per their state’s governor and chief law enforcement officer that must be approved by the Secretary of USDA before it may commence. FOG is in full support of House Bill 333 as it understands the importance of regulation while also incubating a safe, viable market for the future of cannabis. House Bill 333 will beneficially open Florida’s doors to the benefits of the hemp industry for its usage in a textile form and as a dietary substance. House Bill 333 is an advancement in the right direction for the State of Florida.

Regulation:

FOG understands the impact cannabis could have on our economy and health. However, we also understand the need to enact regulations to protect consumers and the environment. Marijuana consumption, in its euphoric recreational form, needs to be exclusively limited to adults. Medicinal use of marijuana by minors must be first approved by a medical professionals. It must also be ensured that our ecosystem will be conserved. We need to protect not only consumers, but also the environment from the potential destruction caused by chemical laden agricultural practices as the marijuana industry grows.  Florida’s environmental livelihood and consumer health hangs in a fragile balance; we need to ensure policies and regulations are in place before the marijuana market booms in this state. FOG will be in support of any state and federal regulation that protects producers, consumers, and our land from any detrimental agricultural practices in the cannabis industry.

Decriminalization:

As Florida moves toward a legal and regulated marijuana and hemp industry, decriminalization of cannabis must be brought to the forefront of the conversation. Even as states enact law reforms for marijuana and as more move toward total legalization, arrests for marijuana make up almost 40% of all drug arrests and costs tax payers billions of dollars while damaging the lives of people caught with even miniscule amounts of the substance. According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, marijuana arrests are up by 21% since 2017, despite ten states legalizing the adult use of cannabis. Racial inequality when it comes to such arrests are also an issue. African Americans and whites are shown to use marijuana at the same rate, however blacks are nearly four times as likely as white Americans to be arrested for marijuana possession according to the American Civil Liberties Union. FOG, as an organization founded on social justice for farm workers and other marginalized people, understands that reform is needed to break the perpetuating racial bias in the unequal treatment of people of color by decriminalizing cannabis and creating regulations that protect against such inequalities.

Future of Cannabis in Florida:

FOG wants to see Florida at the forefront of cannabis regulation, most importantly in the realm of organics. Currently, no US states have any organic standards outlined by their state agricultural departments. Consumers of cannabis, in all of its forms, deserve a product that is free from harsh pesticides and that is grown in a way that protects the environmental livelihood of our state.

FOG will support and advocate for any Florida state legislation that serves to protect consumers and the environment by regulating the possible adverse effects of conventional growing practices. FOG will work with state representatives to ensure that any cannabis regulation that makes it through the legislative process includes in it methods to protect our citizens and preserve the ecosystem of Florida.

We’ve seen numerous examples of the beneficial effects of both hemp and marijuana. It is time for Florida to join other states in the safe and regulated legalization of cannabis. FOG realizes the benefits of cannabis from a health and an economic standpoint and pledges to be on the right side of history in the path toward cannabis legalization. 

How You Can Get Involved?

Donations are one way you can assist FOG to advocate for organic/regenerative/sustainable agriculture! Your donations are direct towards:

  • Education about organic and sustainable agriculture locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.
  • Promoting farmers markets, increasing access for SNAP participants to fresh healthy food and creating market opportunities for Florida small farmers.
  • Providing on-farm workshops for farmers to learn about specialty crops and organic certification.
  • Offering trusted, accredited, third party certifications of organic and food safety standards, expanding the certified organic market.
  • Working to improve public policy that promotes organic and sustainable farming and access to healthy food.
  • Advocating for social equity and just working conditions for all who labor in agriculture.

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