Valerie Haber Quoted in South Florida Business Journal

MIAMI, FL – January 23, 2020 – GrayRobinson alcohol beverage attorney Valerie L. Haber, shareholder in the firm’s Miami law firm and Fort Lauderdale law firm offices, was quoted in the South Florida Business Journal article, "Hemp is a Gateway into Cannabis Business, Panelists Say." The article discusses how entrepreneurs looking to enter the thriving cannabis industry may have more success in the hemp sector, according to panelists, including Haber, at the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce;s South Florida Economic Summit. Florida's barriers of entry into medical marijuana are far higher than hemp, which makes hemp a more enticing option for South Florida entrepreneurs, panelists said. 

Unlike marijuana, still classified by the federal government as Schedule I drug, hemp-which only has trace levels of THC-was legalized by the federal farm bill in 2018. In June 2019, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation to authorize the creation of a state hemp program, a move that could potentially transform Florida's agricultural industry and make it a leader in cannabidiol (CBD) production. "I think the Florida hemp program will become a model for the rest of the country," said Haber, adding that the state has already launched a pilot program to determine the best locations and practices for growing hemp. 

Haber pointed out that hemp also has applications that go beyond the cannabis industry, including construction, food products, and textiles. She stated that we need more dialogue on hemp's non-CBD uses.

The article concludes by illustrating that the biggest barrier of entry to the medical marijuana sector for small business may be Florida's vertical integration system, which requires marijuana business to grow, process, and sell the product to qualify for a license. As a result, businesses need tens of millions of start-up capital. "Some entrepreneurs are hesitant to come into Florida for marijuana because of the expense of vertical integration," Haber said. "With hemp, I think we'll see the opposite. People with expertise will come here to help launch the industry because it's less expensive." Read the full article here.(subscription required)