JEFFERSON CITY, MO — Missouri lawmakers are considering a proposal to exempt industrial hemp from the list of controlled substances in the state and license cultivation. In a move applauded by farmers, the state Senate Agriculture Committee voted unanimously to advance Senate Bill 255 last week.
Agriculture and business leaders hope to see hemp returned to prominence as an important Missouri textile fiber crop once more. President Obama signed the Agricultural Act of 2014 over a year ago, defining industrial hemp (.3% or less THC) and authorizing regulations to be drafted by states that voted to legalize hemp cultivation. If passed, Bill 255 and its companion bill ( House Bill 830, which was approved in late March) will enable Missouri residents to obtain an industrial hemp license from the Missouri Department of Agriculture.
Missouri is also considering House Bill 800, which proposes to license up to 30 “medical cannabis centers” and approve the requisite cannabis cultivation and production facilities in the state, to enable medical marijuana to be provided to patients with various debilitating medical conditions. The bill was advanced by the House Select Committee on General Laws last week, on an 8-0 vote. Advocates expect that House leaders will call House Bill 800 for a floor vote before Missouri’s 2015 legislative session ends in mid-May.