As a native Missourian, I definitely keep up-to-date with the latest political developments in the Show-Me State and was pleased to read that two hemp bills recently received hearings at the state legislature. Even better, one hemp legalization proposal, House Bill 170, just passed out of committee.
Missouri has a rich history with hemp and the state could be a leader in the burgeoning industry that can not only greatly benefit American farmers, but also our environment. My hometown of Lexington is actually famous (well, relatively famous for a small town that now has a population under 5,000, anyway) for a Civil War battle knows as the Battle of the Hemp Bales. A bale of hemp, sold to the United States government by the Missouri NORML chapter sits at a museum commemorating the battle. At Civil War reenactments (if you’re into that kind of thing) you can watch actors posing as Confederate soldiers rolling big bales of what-should-be-hemp up a hill to overtake the Union Army position.
Below is an email sent out by my first mentor, Dan Viets, on behalf of Show-Me Cannabis this morning. Dan has dedicated over three decades of his life to drug policy reform and is a giant to many activists in Middle America and nationally. Dan leads Missouri NORML and and is on the board of directors for National NORML and you can listen to him talk about important civil rights issues every Tuesday on his KOPN radio show, “Sex, Drugs and Civil Liberties.” Not many people have done more to legalize marijuana and end failed Drug War policies than Mr. Viets. Please help Dan and the other great Show-Me Cannabis activists legalize hemp and implement more sensible Drug War reforms in the great state of Missouri. (Full disclosure, I once sat on the board of Show-Me Cannabis and fellow Weed News blogger Amber Langston currently serves as deputy director and a board member.)
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 Craig Redmon and HB 170 is sponsored by Representative Paul Curtman.
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.