Florida lawmakers were briefed on the progress being made for the launch of the Hemp program.

On Tuesday Florida lawmakers were briefed about the upcoming hemp program that would allow farmers to legally cultivate hemp.
 
While things appear to be moving along rapidly, the concerns that there could be confusion between hemp and illegal marijuana may serve as a bump in the road, WCTV reports.
 
To help differentiate between hemp and illegal marijuana, Florida's cannabis director, Holly Bell, has stated that law enforcement agencies have testing kits that now offer on-the-spot results.
 
The kit, along with other updates, were among the progress reported to lawmakers from the state’s department of agriculture.
 
"I feel like we're very much on track. We've been working very hard and things are moving along well," said Bell.
 
The first set of licenses to prospective growers are expected to be issued at the beginning of 2020.

Bell estimates that several million dollars could be made from the first crop in 2020 and could grow to hundreds of millions, and maybe even billions within just a few years.
 
However, Florida A&M and University of Florida researchers are more cautious in their predictions and prefer a wait-and-see approach.
 
Their reservations are based on the lack of understanding of how well hemp will adapt and grow in Florida's environment and an absence of certified pesticides for hemp.
 
"I am a little bit concerned about growers getting out ahead of what we know on the science in Florida," said UF’s dean of research, Robert Gilbert. "We can't make recommendations on one year of data."
 
Although Florida is still awaiting certification from the USDA for its hemp program, Bell said other states have already begun preparing crops and Florida will probably be able, to start with, or without federal approval.
 
Read more here.

This story has been written and syndicated across GateHouse Media Group's 22 Florida markets.