A number of leading farmers, processors, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers have banded together to form the Florida Hemp Council.

The non-profit trade body is designed to promote the state’s “good actors” and assist the authorities in holding the “bad actors” to account. Founding members include Blue Moon Hemp, Blume Hemp, Evello Global, Evio Labs, GenCanna Global, Green Roads, Mission Lago Farms, Natural Life, and Veritas Farms.

All of the firms have a stake in the Florida hemp trade and they want to ensure it reaches its potential as a multi-billion-dollar industry. “This is truly a pivotal time for hemp in Florida as we formally announce the establishment of this futurist association and its founding members of trailblazing leaders in the current market,” said the group’s newly appointed executive director, Eric Stevens.

He is a University of Miami graduate and he received an endowment to study medical across the U.S. before going on to serve as a senior executive at United for Care and Florida for Care. During that time he led medical marijuana amendment campaigns, while he also worked on medical cannabis campaigns in his home state, Massachusetts.

He is currently an executive director at Kaycha Group, which operates cannabis and hemp testing labs and the MJ Buddy App, a cannabis research and patient outcome tool.

The group has put up a holding website, which will be overhauled in August and officially launched on Aug. 31, 2019. The Florida Hemp Council is also planning an inaugural hemp conference in Fort Lauderdale next summer, with annual trade shows in north and south Florida to follow.

It is actively recruiting new members and the hope is to represent the entire economic engine within the state, from farmers to retailers.

The 2018 Farm Bill allows states to create a regulatory framework for hemp industries; the Florida legislature passed hemp bill SB 1020 in May 2019. Gov. Ron DeSanctis signed it the following month following a public consultation period, and it became law on July 1.

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimates that permits could be issued by October 2019 and cultivation can get underway then.