JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.. – April 24, 2014. Yesterday, a Missouri house committee gave approval to a bill which would authorize the growing and production of industrial hemp within the state, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal ban on the same.

Introduced by Rep. Mike Colona and cosponsored by Reps. Galen Higdon and Paul Curtman, House Bill 2054 (HB2054) passed by a vote of 16-1 in the house committee on economic development.

The bill states, quite simply, “Industrial hemp production, possession, and commerce in industrial hemp commodities and products shall be permitted in this state.”

HB2054 sets up “shall issue” licensing program. In short, the Missouri department of agriculture will be required, under broad parameters, to issue licenses to those wishing to grow industrial hemp or become an industrial hemp seed producer. A similar requirement was included in a bill passed by the Tennessee legislature earlier this month.

Three other states – Colorado, Oregon and Vermont – have already passed bills to authorize hemp farming, but only in Colorado has the process begun in practice.  Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013 and the state began issuing licenses on March 1, 2014.  In Vermont and Oregon, hemp farming was authorized, but no licensing program was mandated, so implementation has been delayed due to regulatory foot-dragging.

HUGE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL

Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $500 million per year.

But, since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.

There are as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!

Even though soil, climate and agricultural capabilities could make the United States a massive producer of industrial hemp, today no hemp is grown for public sale, use and consumption outside of Colorado, which just began production.

In February of this year, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

The farming laws in Colorado, Oregon and Vermont go beyond research and into full-scale farming and production, effectively nullifying the federal ban once production begins. Tennessee will join them, and Missouri is on a path to do so as well.

But, even with strong support in the house committee this week, there are a number of hurdles in the Missouri legislature. It will first need to pass out of the house rules committee, then get two passing votes on the house floor. From there, it will have to repeat the entire process in the state senate.

And while some have suggested a resistance from some in the house leadership, Rep. Colona suggested that the more people who speak out, the greater the chance of passage.  “If enough people stand up and talk to them, they might actually listen.”

ACTION ITEMS

For South Carolina Residents: Take action today to help pass S0839 by clicking HERE.

For All Other States: Take action in your state to push legislators to introduce and support bills to legalize hemp farming by clicking HERE


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