Missouri farmers may soon benefit from “weeds” growing in their fields in the form of industrial hemp.
A bill sponsored by State Rep. Paul Curtman, R-Washington, allowing the growing and cultivation of industrial hemp has passed both houses of the Missouri Legislature and will go to Gov. Eric Greitens’ desk.
By a vote of 131 to 6, House Bill 2034 passed Thursday, May 3, after a few amendments were added in the Senate and agreed to by the House members.
On social media, Curtman thanked his fellow legislators, especially State Sen. Brian Munzlinger, who sponsored similar legislation, for all the help.
“Finally, after about four years of work, the House and Senate truly agreed and finally passed my legislation to legalize the growth and cultivation of industrial hemp,” Curtman said.
According to the final language, this bill exempts industrial hemp, which is defined as Cannabis sativa L. containing no greater than 0.3 percent THC, from the definition of marijuana and the list of controlled substances.
In addition, it is legal for any person who has received an industrial hemp license to grow, harvest, cultivate, and process industrial hemp.
If signed, the bill will create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to be implemented by the Department of Agriculture and specifies the requirements for an applicant of an industrial hemp registration and agricultural hemp seed production permit.
The department must issue a license or permit to an applicant who meets the statutory requirements, upon satisfactory completion of a state and federal fingerprint criminal history background check, and who signs a waiver that holds the department harmless in the event a lawsuit occurs or the growth, processing or other specified actions related to industrial hemp or seed is declared illegal under federal law.
The total acreage allowed to be planted statewide is 2,000 acres. No permits will be issued for applicants planting less than 10 acres or more than 40 acres.
Every grower or handler must be subject to an industrial hemp plant monitoring system.
A grower or handler can be inspected to ensure compliance with statutes, department rules, the monitoring system, or a final department order directed to the grower’s or handler’s industrial hemp operations or activities.
Crops exceeding the allowable THC limits may be required to be destroyed by the grower or handler.
If the crop is not destroyed within 15 days, the grower or handler will be subject to a fine of $5,000 per day until the destruction of the crop and is in addition to any criminal liability incurred by the grower.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol may perform aerial surveillance to ensure illegal industrial hemp or marijuana plants are not being cultivated on or near industrial hemp and may coordinate with local law enforcement agencies to certify the destruction of illegal industrial hemp or marijuana plants.
If signed by the governor, the bill would become law in August.
Locally, State Reps. Justin Alferman, R-Hermann, Kirk Mathews, R-Pacific, Nathan Tate, R-St. Clair, and State Sen. Dave Schatz all supported the passage of the bill.