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Democracy Trailblazers ignite enthusiasm among teen voters; CA monster blizzard batters Tahoe, Mammoth, Sierra amid avalanche warnings; MN transportation sector could be next in line for carbon-free standard; IN teachers 'stunned' by lawmakers' bid to bypass collective bargaining.

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Nikki Haley says she may not endorse the GOP nominee, President Biden says the U-S will continue air-dropping aid into Gaza and more states look at ditching the electoral college for a national popular vote.

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Hard times could be ahead for rural school districts that spent federal pandemic money on teacher salaries, a former Oregon lumber community drafts a climate-action plan and West Virginians may soon buy raw milk from squeaky-clean cows.

Will Hemp Get Over the Hump in Florida?

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Monday, February 23, 2015   

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A table full of hemp products recently made for a strange sight inside Florida's Capitol building, especially when growing the plant here is illegal.

The display was set up to promote new legislation to legalize and regulate the cultivation of hemp farming, for use in beauty care, food and other products.

Hemp itself is benign, but leaves from other species of cannabis plants can produce hallucinogenic forms of marijuana, so it is lumped in with the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

Jodi James, executive director of the Florida Cannabis Action Network, says Florida is missing out.

"There's millions of dollars, actually half a billion dollars worth of hemp products being imported in to the United States every year,” she advises. “They're on the shelves in our Targets, our Costcos, our health food stores. This is a great industrial opportunity for our state."

In Florida, it's technically illegal to sell any hemp product, though James says the law is only selectively enforced.

If the bills pass, the Florida Department of Agriculture would set up guidelines for farmers to begin growing hemp, which James says could be harvested year-round in the state's warm climate.

James adds her group will be working hard to erase what she calls the marijuana stigma that's improperly attached to hemp.

"It's totally non-euphoric,” she stresses. “There's no harms to it. It's not going to get someone high. It's not going to do anything except feed you, clothe you and house you."

That's right. In addition to its applications in food, cosmetics, paper and clothing, hemp fibers are also being promoted as materials for home construction.

Structural engineer Bob Clayton got approval to build his Florida house with what’s called hempcrete.

"I imported $6,500 worth of hemp from England to build my house,” he explains. “And it's about a 1,600-square-foot house, three-bedroom. This housing is perfect for Florida."

Clayton says his energy bills are a fraction of what they used to be and that hempcrete is even strong enough to stand up to Florida's strict hurricane building codes.




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