JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – On Thursday, the House sent several bills to the Senate including a bill regarding industrial hemp and a bill preventing homeowners’ associations from banning political signs.
In a bipartisan effort, the House voted 141-4 to legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the Show-Me State.
HB 2034, sponsored by Rep. Paul Curtman, takes advantage of a provision within the 2014 U.S. Farm Bill that allows states to pass their own legislation regarding the cultivation of industrial hemp for commercial, research or pilot programs.
“This is a substantial step in economic freedom,” Curtman said during perfection of the bill.
Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 — which classified all forms of cannabis as a Schedule I drug — it is illegal to cultivate industrial hemp in the United States. However, it is not illegal for hemp to be imported into the country.
Supporters say that allowing Missouri farmers to grow hemp will help boost the economy, open up the hemp market, bring jobs to the state and give agriculturalists another cash crop.
Those backing the bill point out that hemp isn’t marijuana. While the two come from the same cannabis species, Cannabis sativa, but are from different subspecies making them “scientifically and genetically different.” Hemp is bred specifically for fiber and oil use and, with less than .3 percent THC, is non-psychoactive.
“You can smoke it all day and you won’t get high,” Curtman pointed out, “you will only get sick.”
The close relationship between hemp and marijuana worried Rep. Allen Andrew, who voted against the bill. He pointed out that a small amount of marijuana is far more profitable than hemp. When both plants look similar, and it is difficult to tell the difference between the two, Andrew wanted to know what is stopping farmers from planting a portion of their field with the more lucrative crop?
Planting the two crops close together would render both crops useless, according to Curtman. The close relationship between hemp and marijuana enable the plants to cross-pollinate, which would ruin both crops.
Andrews had a list of reasons he was opposed to the legislation, saying hemp would be difficult to police, costly to enforce and is “can of worms we can not put a lid back on.”
The House also approved a bill that would prohibit homeowners’ associations from outright banning political signs.
Rep. Kurt Bahr’s HB 1887 is a “simple bill dealing with freedom.”
“I believe in freedom, I believe in the first amendment freedoms,” Rep. Jay Barnes said during perfection. “This gentleman’s bill is a wonderful way to protect our first amendment freedoms to political speech.”
The legislation allows homeowners’ associations to adopt reasonable rules regarding political signs such as time, place, and size. However, an outright ban on political signs is not allowed. The association cannot remove or impose a fine without written notice of a reasonable rule violation.
During perfection, one Democrat questioned who defined “reasonable” and if leaving it up to homeowners’ associations was too much leeway.
Supporters, which include the ACLU of Missouri, say the bill enacts rules similar to existing First Amendment doctrine.
The bill passed in a 137-5 vote.
Lyle Rowland’s HB 1572, which modifies provisions relating to driver’s license for those who are deaf or hard of hearing also was sent to the Senate.
In a 144-1 vote, the House voted to enable individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing the ability to have a notation on their driver’s license.
HB 1366, which allows city buses to transport students to schools, was also passed after the PQ was moved to end debate.
Alisha Shurr is a reporter for the Missouri Times and Missouri Times Magazine. She joined the Missouri Times in January 2018 after working as a copy editor for her hometown newspaper in Southern Oregon. Alisha is a graduate of Kansas State University. Contact Alisha at email@example.com.