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  • Christopher Smith, Publisher

Is Big Sugar Thumbing the Scales Against Florida Hemp?

The cannabis news feeds are full to the brim with stories of Chuck Schumer's road show to summon support for his cannabis legislation, The Olympics carrying on without Sha'Carri Richardson (but with Megan Rapinoe, with her own slightly self-serving pitch for CBD), so it took a minute to uncover this small story about "the cousin" - hemp, in 420 Intel: "'Can Hemp Be Cultivated in Florida? Not Without Legal and Environmental Risks, UF Study Finds". The story originally appeared in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, which was at one time a Hearst property (yes, that one).

Photo by Tyler Jones, UF/IFAS,

"The University of Florida's Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has concluded a two-year pilot study to measure hemp cultivation possibilities in Florida. The project aimed to assess hemp suitability, develop management strategies and evaluate the invasion risk in Florida."

  • The “legal risk" mentioned in the headline is that the hemp might come in over 0.3% THC. This is not a legal risk to the University or the State, but only to farmers, and a minimal one at that since there is a simple way to handle it.

  • The “environmental risk” is that a) birds might spread the seeds, or b) “Hemp will need fertilizer, [which could] fuels algal blooms and nutrient pollution that can contribute to red tide in area waterways.“

That last bit was what got my attention... And the wheels started turning… Florida… fertilizer… algae blooms… (light bulb illuminates) Who just might be among the biggest funders of the University of Florida Food and Agricultural Sciences School (and this “study”)? Perhaps the biggest agricultural commodity in Florida… BIG SUGAR.

I’ll admit it: sugar is my public enemy #1:

Sugar is the REAL GATEWAY DRUG to pain and suffering.

  • Over 30 million Americans have diabetes

  • 35% of our men are OBESE, 40% of our women and 17% of our kids


Big Sugar been just fine letting people say cannabis is the gateway drug… because Big Sugar’s has a Super Power called “diverting attention.”

  1. Remember how we were told that the big danger in our diets was saturated fat? That it would cause heart disease and obesity? The New York Times has reported that the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists in the 1960s to produce research that downplayed the connection between sugar and heart disease, and instead laid the blame on saturated fat.

  2. The documents suggest that five decades of scientific research into the interconnection between nutrition and heart disease “may have been largely shaped by the sugar industry.”

  3. And let’s not forget that Big Sugar still gets about $3 Billion in annual subsidies to prop up US sugar prices. ("Although the price of sugar on the world market is 10 cents a pound, American sugar growers by law are guaranteed 21 cents a pound.")

  4. And guess when that started? 1937, same year as the Marihuana Tax Act!


Conclusions from the study

"Zachary Brym, an agronomy assistant professor at UF and hemp pilot project lead scientist, said that for now, the researchers were not able to identify one variety that would successfully flourish in Florida's climate. "

This statement is a bit awkward, since "At this moment Florida has 22,078 licensed acres of hemp cultivation after just seven months. This acreage is nearly identical to three of our key crops—tomatoes, watermelon and snap peas and is double that of what we have in production of strawberries here in the state of Florida,"

Regarding Florida water quality from fertilizer run-off and the resulting algae blooms:

From The Atlantic: “{Sugar Plantations’} history of releasing fertilizer into Lake Okeechobee—and opposing a reservoir that would hold that polluted water—earns Big Sugar the ire of environmentalists. It’s nutrient-rich water—heavy with fertilizer—that fuels the green slime and the red tides that have closed many Florida beaches.”

Which leads to another headline from just last week: “At Least 600 Tons Of Dead Fish Have Washed Up Along Tampa Bay's Shore

So I don’t believe this hemp study. It’s seems as dirty as Big Sugar.

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