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Missouri Hemp Bill Approved by House Committee

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Hemp would be legal to cultivate again in the state of Missouri under two bills which were heard in the Missouri House Agriculture Committee last week. I traveled to Jefferson City to testify in support of those bills on behalf of Show-Me Cannabis.

The two bills, HB 83 and HB 170, are very similar. They would both establish a system for licensing farmers to cultivate a very low-THC variety of cannabis which would be useful for a wide variety of agricultural and industrial purposes. HB 83 is sponsored by Representative Paul Curtman and HB 170 is sponsored by Representative Craig Redmon.

I testified in support of both bills. I pointed out that I grew up on a small farm in northwest Missouri where hemp literally cannot be stopped from growing. The state of Missouri, and northwest Missouri in particular, is very well suited for the cultivation of hemp. I told the Committee that hemp grew on every uncultivated square foot of that farm, including all the fence rows. However, the hemp had never been a problem for my father’s cultivation of corn and soybeans and other conventional crops. I told the Committee that Missouri had historically been one of the most productive states in terms of hemp production.

I pointed out to the Committee that farmers in Canada and Europe are now selling hemp to Missourians and other Americans. I told them it is a shame that Missouri farmers are not allowed to reap the benefits of such cultivation since our state is uniquely suited to growing this crop.

The Committee members seemed to be genuinely interested and receptive. Representative Deb Lavender of Saint Louis actually questioned why there should be any license required to cultivate hemp. She pointed out that no license is required to cultivate corn or soybeans and questioned why one should be required for hemp. Representative Curtman, who had discussed this matter with her previously, replied that the political reality is that additional regulations and safeguards have to be used for hemp in order to establish this “pilot program.” Perhaps at a later point, these safeguards will no longer be needed.

I am pleased to report that the committee approved Curtman’s bill HB 170 yesterday with a Do-Pass Recommendation. From here, it will go to the Rules Committee and then on to the House floor. If approved by the entire House of Representatives, it will be passed over to the Senate for its consideration before, hopefully, being sent to the Governor’s desk.

Testimony in support of such legislation is only one of the many services Show-Me Cannabis provides to our members in Missouri. Please help us to continue this work. Although I received no payment and covered my own expenses for traveling to Jefferson City to testify, we must raise funds to keep you informed about developments in cannabis policy from the national to the local level, including our bi-annual Missouri Cannabis Conferences which are co-sponsored with Missouri NORML.

Please contribute generously to support this important work. Please help us to accelerate the pace of change in Missouri’s cannabis laws.

Dan Viets

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