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FAMU hopes to expand research of hemp industry

Posted at 6:37 PM, Mar 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-08 18:37:25-05

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.(WTXL) — The hemp industry is a hot topic in Florida.

So much so, lawmakers could lessen penalties for those who get into the business.

Right now Farmers are eyeing the plant as new crop following Hurricane Michael.

Now Florida A&M University is taking even more notice with plans for a new research program.

FAMU researchers want to know if the cannabis plant, hemp, can be a successful crop and benefit Florida's economy.

The university was approved by the state to grow hemp in 2017.

Since there is such little data on it right now and FAMU researchers want to figure out if there are more uses for the plant.

Dr. Charles Weatherford oversees FAMU's hemp research. He says the growing season starts this month and he hopes to get the first batch of seeds planted on their Gadsden County farm.

He thinks hemp can save the crop industry in North Florida for farmers who lost everything during Hurricane Michael.

"We want to get as many underserved farmers involved as possible but FAMU wants to make some money from this as well. It's going to difficult to make very much money in the first two years. The research is going to be done, the ground work is going to be laid, but subsequent years is where the money is going to be made," said Dr. Charles Weatherford the Interim Vice President at FAMU hemp research.

Dr. Weatherford says the university will partner with three hemp companies for the research.

FAMU hopes to expand research farms across Florida to see how hemp reacts in Florida's climate.

They will also have a greenhouse on campus to create a controlled environment.

FAMU is only one of two universities in Florida who are authorized to grow hemp and study it's applications.

The other is the University of Florida the school just kicked off its research.