Could Hemp Secure The Health Of Florida’s Water?

Allowing hemp production could very well continue to fund the water fixes our state needs.

By Steve Edmonds

There are approximately 12 million acres of available farmland in Florida. We currently utilize about 9.5 million acres. Hundreds of thousands of acres are dedicated to citrus production. The citrus industry is dying from Greening and Canker. Florida was once a giant in agriculture. Not just in the U.S… but the World.

Another thing Florida used to be world famous for – its water. A peninsula riddled with rivers and lakes surrounded by miles of beach.   Due to a long list of contributing factors, not the least of which is population, we have been destroying our water environments and our drinking water at an increasing rate.   Most experts agree that we will be experiencing drinking water shortages, if not catastrophe somewhere between 2030 and 2040. Storm water and flood control need a complete redesign to halt the continual bombardment to the natural systems. Dealing with deluge and drought and transporting water from areas that are inundated to ones that are thirsty should be the focus.

We currently flush to tide, during discharges from Lake O, more water per day than is consumed by the entire South Florida population. This is an incredible waste of precious resource.

Soon we will be experiencing the drought seasons and with them, lots of fires. Instead of dealing with too much water, we will be wishing we stored some of that which we flushed to tide. This is not prediction, its historical cycles.

A system dynamic enough and large enough in scope to cover all needs in the state would require massive infrastructure improvements in redesign, retrofitting and creation of new structures and systems. This will create an incredible amount of jobs. Unfortunately, it will also require significant investment and expense to get there.

What if we could offer struggling farmers a crop option that could grow in most configurations, requires no pesticides, no fertilizers and less precipitation than Florida’s annual average? What if this crop also doubled as a cover crop? What if there was world-wide demand creating over 50,000 products from the raw materials of this crop? What if there was large state wide demand in the local economy? What if there was a way to direct the economy of this new crop to paying for the needed water infrastructure improvements?

Currently the finished products of the 50,000 are mostly available in the US markets. They range from health and beauty to composites for air planes.   Chicken farmers can’t wait for the seeds and bio fuel makers are looking for the oil from those seeds. If you have not already guessed, this crop, one of the oldest on the planet and preferred by our founding father/farmer George Washington, is Hemp.

Hemp gets demonized under the prohibition of marijuana. It is indeed part of the family of cannabis, but has virtually no THC, the cannabinoid responsible for the “high”. States that allow hemp production define it from .3%-.8% or less THC to be considered industrial hemp. In other words, you could smoke the whole field and not get high. is a project that hopes to begin the discussion for real solutions. Its primary suggestion is to utilize the revenue of industries that do not currently exist to help pay for water infrastructure improvements. The idea is simple, getting it accepted and passed will not be.

  • Remove the legal barriers prohibiting farmers from growing industrial hemp.
  • Exempt anyone doing business in hemp sectors from the 5.5% corporate tax and state portions of sales tax.
  • Charge a 10% hemp for water excise tax on all hemp transactions.
  • Use collected revenue to pay for water infrastructure is a “what if” scenario drawn from only ten identified industries. It took the top two economic generators with the bottom two and analyzed what kind of economy might be expected from just 4 industries created from 2 million acres of hemp. That limited sampling creates 9 billion in economic activity a year. 10% or $900,000,000 could be generated annually to pay for water infrastructure and those previously mentioned jobs for building and maintaining that infrastructure. only examined 4 potential industries.

Those alone could create tens of thousands of jobs from farm workers to high paid executives and everything in between. was created as a discussion platform to answer the question of how.

Allowing hemp production could very well continue to fund the water fixes our state needs.


Steve Edmonds is a professor and founder of the One Florida Foundation, which pushes for sensible water policy in the sunshine state.