The Missouri Senate has approved a bill to enable the cultivation of industrial hemp.
The measure would declassify hemp from the category of Schedule I drugs, which have a higher level of abuse and no accepted medical use. There had been more opposition to the legislation in earlier years because of its connection to marijuana.
It would create an industrial hemp agricultural pilot program to learn the cultivation and marketing of hemp Growers and handlers would have to obtain a permit and pass a fingerprint criminal background check.
The Department of would oversee all growing and cultivating activity of industrial hemp, which can be used in the making of items such as apparel, food, paper, plastics, and biofuel.
The department would also be charged with inspecting crops, which would be eliminated if their THC levels exceeded 0.3%.
Supporters of industrial hemp say it serves as an alternate crop for farmers and is good for business. Resistance to its use has come from the legal community, specifically prosecuting attorneys.
Bill sponsor Brian Munzlinger, R-Monticello, says hemp has very little in common with illegal cannabis products such as marijuana.
“Actually what I’ve got here is a marijuana eradication program,” said Munzlinger. “The two do not fit next to each other. Industrial hemp will bring down the THC. And if you’re going with marijuana I guess they want high THC. If THC is high in industrial hemp, then it will have to be destroyed.”
The Senate bill, which passed by a 29-3 margin Thursday, is similar to an industrial hemp proposal that approved last month in the house by 141-4 vote.