Growing Medical Marijuana in Florida

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By Alison DeLoach

Growing hemp and medical marijuana continues to be a hot topic for growers in Florida. Jim Spratt, owner of Magnolia Strategies LLC, discussed the challenges of growing medical marijuana at the Florida Agricultural Policy Outlook Conference in February.

Spratt said while the Florida Legislature ventured into medical marijuana, he had the opportunity to be involved in some of the discussions. Spratt said there are certain requirements growers have to meet before they are able to grow medical marijuana. He outlined those requirements, starting with growers obtaining licenses from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Spratt stressed that this is not a get-rich-quick scheme. In fact, most new emerging crops aren’t get-rich-quick crops. “I think the discussion now is on medical marijuana and quite frankly on hemp production; both have opportunities but you don’t just go plan on it and then go straight to the bank,” said Spratt.

Growing marijuana will continue to be a cumbersome process. The drug is still considered a Schedule One drug. In the recent Farm Bill, Congress gave some exemptions to hemp production; however there are still many limitations on gaining access to seeds for both crops.

For growers who are interested in growing medical marijuana, Spratt recommended they research the medical marijuana industry well. If someone doesn’t have a passion for growing medical marijuana, this may not be a good fit for them.

Growers should also recognize that Florida’s climate is not very conducive for cannabis production. In Florida, the humidity and subtropical climate creates challenges during the processing of cannabis. Some insects in Florida, such as thrips, “have a field day on the plant,” said Spratt.

Despite the challenges, Florida agriculture is moving toward growing more innovative crops, and medical marijuana has the potential to be the next big crop for Florida.

Hear the full interview with AgNet Media’s Ernie Neff:

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