Can cannabis save Florida’s waterways?

Can cannabis save Florida’s waterways?

Billy Cox Staff Writer It may not be the Yankees-Dodgers, but here’s a matchup the oddsmakers should pay attention to, because the stakes are higher. Especially with the Florida economy reeling from the coronavirus. When it comes to leeching pollutants out of the water, which plant is more voracious: toxic algae or cannabis? Or, more specifically, the kind of cannabis without the psychoactive THC – industrial hemp. The answer could be worth billions either way. The first leg of the challenge is progressing at two small lakes in Avon Park, on one of South Florida State College’s three campuses in central Florida. And if the experiment shakes down the way entrepreneur Steve Edmonds predicts, the outcome could solve a riddle no one has been able to figure out – how to clean up an ailing Lake Okeechobee. The fix could mitigate the scourge of red tide, and starve the karenia brevis algae that fouls Florida’s waterways on a seasonal basis. Approved by the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, this Florida Industrial Hemp Pilot Project aims to discover just how much of the two main nutrients that fuel toxic algae – nitrogen and phosphorus – can be drained from polluted water by cannabis. And if, at the end of the 190-day trial, the anticipated levels are achieved, it could be “a real game-changer,” according to SFSC project manager Kendall Carson. Edmonds, an Oveido entrepreneur, environmentalist and longtime cannabis activist, formed the nonprofit Hemp4Water in 2013, shortly after the catastrophic, oxygen-sucking algal outbreak that hit Florida seven years ago. Triggered largely by runoff water saturated with heavy metals, fertilizers and other pollutants, the bloom wreaked most of its havoc in Southwest Florida. But nearly 250 manatees died statewide, and the stinging brevetoxins made life miserable for waterfront residents and […]

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