Missouri Hemp Overview

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What is Hemp?

Hemp is a botanical plant of the cannabis family. Marijuana is also related to hemp because it is a member of the Cannabis sativa family. Hemp and marijuana are virtually indistinguishable in taste and aroma. However, industrial hemp, the particular variety from which medicinal derivatives are produced, has lower tetrahydrocannabinol [THC] level, the cannabinoid that causes a psychoactive effect in users. Hemp is a rich source of cannabidiol [CBD], a cannabinoid valued for its medicinal benefits. In the United States, including Missouri, legal hemp must not have a THC content exceeding 0.3%. Marijuana has a THC content of more than 0.3% and is consumed by many people for its psychoactive effects. Female hemp flowers are seed-producing, while male hemp flowers are pollen-producing.

The hemp plant takes around four months to grow to maturity, while the marijuana plant reaches maturity in three months. The hemp plant has slightly broader leaves than the marijuana plant, but both share the same serrated edges. The hemp plant can attain an average height of five meters, while the marijuana plant can reach two meters in height.

Industrial hemp is the source of CBD products which are considered legal, according to U.S. federal law. It is cultivated purely to extract medicinal substances or for producing a wide variety of goods.

Below is a list of important hemp parts and derivatives:

  • Hemp seeds are rich in nutrients such as magnesium, fiber, proteins, and oils. They are edible even when raw and are used as food and beverage additives
  • Hemp flower grows on the female species of the plant. It is a primary source of many therapeutic derivatives like CBD oil and dried, smokable potions. Hemp flower is low in THC and high in CBD. It is rich in the compound cannabigerol [CBG], which helps to reduce inflammation and provide relief for people with neurological conditions
  • Hemp extract refers to the totality of the derivatives that can be obtained from the hemp plant. It comprises the flowers, leaves, seeds, and roots of the plant. In its original form, hemp extract will contain all the cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and limonene present in the hemp plant
  • Hemp oil comes from the cold compression of hemp seeds and varies in color from dark to light green. It contains no CBD and is not the same thing as CBD oil. It is used as a dietary additive and in cosmetics
  • Hemp hearts are the soft core of hemp seeds. They are devoid of either THC or CBD and are consumed for their nutritional value. Hemp hearts are rich in fiber, proteins, magnesium, and iron
  • Hemp milk is made from a mixture of ground hemp seeds and water. It is widely used as a substitute for animal milk. It is low in calories and rich in vitamins, minerals, fats, and proteins

Is Hemp Legal in Missouri?

Yes, hemp is legal in Missouri. The Missouri Department of Agriculture regulates hemp in the state, except for nonviable hemp materials like fiber and grain. Hemp has a long history in Missouri. At a point in the 19th century, the state was a leading cultivator of hemp for paper and rope production. In 2013, the year before the U.S. Congress enacted the 2014 Farm Bill, Missouri passed SB 358, removing industrial hemp from the legal definition of marijuana. SB 358 defines industrial hemp as a variant of Cannabis sativa with a THC content of not more than 1%. Under the provisions of SB 358, a Missouri resident who does not have a prior drug-related felony conviction can grow the hemp plant.

In 2014, the same year that the U.S. Congress passed the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2014, Missouri established the Missouri Hemp Extract Registration Program [MHERP]. This was a pioneering program which allowed hemp extracts to be used in the therapeutic treatment of epilepsy. A qualifying patient under the Hemp Extract Registration Program must be at least 18 years old or be the parent/legal guardian of a person under 18. Missouri established Cannabidiol Oil Care Centers to give qualifying patients access to hemp-derived CBD. Missouri enacted HB 2238 in July 2014 to permit Missouri residents who are suffering from chronic epilepsy and have been certified as such by a neurologist to access hemp extract for relief of their condition. HB 2238 defined hemp extract as cannabis plant derivatives with a CBD content of at least 5%.

The 2014 Farm Bill partially legalized the cultivation of hemp in the United States. However, under the provisions of Section 7606 of the bill, hemp could only be cultivated for purposes of scientific research and only by universities or state departments of agriculture. The 2014 Farm Bill set up the Hemp Research Pilot Program to oversee this research.

The 2018 Farm Bill removed the hemp plant and its derivatives from the legal definition of marijuana. This meant that the federal government no longer considered it an illegal substance as defined by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. More importantly, hemp can now be cultivated for commercial, and not just research purposes, provided that the cultivator adheres to rules laid down by the United States Department of Agriculture. The 2018 Farm Bill permits state governments to regulate their hemp programs upon the USDA’s approval. The 2018 Farm Bill established the Domestic Hemp Production Program.

In 2018, Missouri passed HB 2034, a bill describing illegal industrial hemp as hemp that has a THC content above 0.3%. HB 2034 established the state’s Industrial Hemp Pilot Program in 2018. The bill also tasked the Missouri Department of Agriculture with overseeing the program, whose duty includes studying all aspects of industrial hemp, including growth, cultivation, processing, and marketing.

Under the provisions of SB 133 of 2019, hemp research programs at Missouri universities and industrial hemp processors are exempt from the licensing requirement. The 2014 Farm Bill had made it legal for higher education institutions to conduct industrial hemp research without going through registration formalities. The passage of SB 133 made the processing of industrial hemp legal in Missouri. Missouri residents can grow industrial hemp if they have a government-issued license to do so. SB 133 removed regulation of nonviable hemp products from the Missouri Department of Agriculture. Nonviable hemp products are items like grain and fiber, which can be bought and sold in the open market.

What Hemp Products are Legal in Missouri?

The State of Missouri has legalized the use of all hemp-derived products. It is possible to buy hemp-infused drinks and food in Missouri. Under the Missouri Medical Hemp Extract Registration Program, qualifying patients can purchase no more than 20 ounces of hemp extract unless a doctor has issued a waiver granting them access to a higher quantity. Missouri residents who are not enrolled in the medical hemp program can access a full range of hemp-derived products without limits.

Can a Municipality Restrict Hemp Cultivation or Processing in Missouri?

No hemp legislation in any Missouri cities, counties, and townships currently prevents residents or businesses from growing or processing hemp. Missouri counties like Lafayette, Platte, Saline, and Buchanan were historically hubs of hemp cultivation.

How to Get a License to Grow or Process Hemp in Missouri

Missouri residents who want to grow or process hemp must obtain licenses from the Department of Agriculture. The license to grow hemp is called the Registered Producer Permit. To qualify and apply for a Registered Producer Permit, the applicant must be a legal resident of the State of Missouri and undergo a mandatory criminal background check. The applicant must not have been convicted of any crimes related to drug possession or trafficking during the 10-year period before their application. Each application for a Registered Producer Permit must include the applicant's full name and address and specific information regarding the proposed land for hemp cultivation. This will include such details as a map of the plot, a description of its size, its legal title, and its GPS coordinates. An applicant can only begin hemp cultivation in Missouri after their application has been approved and a registration number issued to them by the Department of Agriculture.

The license that permits selling or distributing industrial hemp in Missouri is called the Agricultural Hemp Propagule and Seed Permit. It is strictly for the sale of industrial hemp and holders are not allowed to engage in cultivation. Registered Producers and Propagule Seed Permit applicants are required to pay a $41.75 fee as cost of criminal background check.

The license that allows a Missouri resident to collect hemp samples due for testing by the regulator is called the Permit for Certified Industrial Hemp Samplers. Certified hemp samplers pay an application fee of $50. They are required to sit for an examination and undergo training prior to the approval of their licenses. Certified samplers are mandated to take up hemp samples from growers 15 days before the crop is harvested.

How Much Does a License to Grow or Process Hemp Cost in Missouri?

Hemp licenses in Missouri attract an application fee of $750. This fee is non-refundable and is paid alongside the original application. A Missouri hemp license is valid for three years. Annual renewal fee is also $750 payable to the Department of Agriculture.

How to Grow Hemp in Missouri

Generally, hemp is grown from seeds in most soil types, but care needs to be taken to ensure that the soil is not waterlogged. Hemp seeds are typically planted into the soil to a depth of around 3 cm. Hemp grown specifically for its seeds is planted in widely spaced rows to ensure that the plant spreads out when mature and yields more seeds. Like most crops in Missouri, hemp requires watering during the early stages of its growth.

Hemp is cultivated in a different way from marijuana. While the hemp plant can be grown in tightly packed rows, the marijuana crop requires more space. Thus, the size of land needed for hemp cultivation is relatively smaller. Hemp is typically cultivated in outdoor plots. Marijuana, on the other hand, often thrives indoors or in greenhouses.

In Missouri, hemp farmers who cultivate their crops in greenhouses are usually able to harvest all year round. The Missouri Department of Agriculture also conducts random tests on hemp farms to ascertain that the crop being cultivated does not possess a THC level above the legally permitted limit of 0.3%. Once caught, the department destroys hemp crops whose THC level exceeds 0.3%.

Because hemp is susceptible to pests and other infestations, the State of Missouri authorizes the use of registered pesticides on the crop field. Pesticide use in Missouri is regulated by the Department of Agriculture's Bureau of Pesticide Control. Overall authority for approving hemp pesticides rests with the Environmental Protection Agency and Missouri has generally adopted products approved for use by the EPA. EPA-approved pesticides allowed for use on industrial hemp in Missouri include:

  • LifeGard WG
  • Regalia Bioprotectant
  • Tango
  • Amplitude
  • GH DMNT
  • Reliant Systemic Fungicide
  • Debug Optimo
  • Debug Turbo
  • Debug Tres

Where Can You Buy Hemp Flower in Missouri?

Missouri residents can order hemp flowers online. Hemp flower is also available in health stores and dispensaries around the state. Missouri residents can buy smokable hemp flowers although a license is required if the buyer intends to process rather than consume the product.

Missouri businesses are allowed to ship in hemp and CBD products. The United Parcel Service agrees to carry hemp, but not marijuana products. Marijuana products are illegal federally.

Hemp vs THC

Hemp is the Cannabis sativa plant from which several medicinal products are derived. It is composed of several compounds, among which is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is a psychoactive substance, meaning that it can alter the mood of an individual who uses it. Hemp has lower levels of THC than marijuana.

Hemp vs CBD

Hemp is the Cannabis sativa plant that contains cannabidiol (CBD), among other chemical components. CBD is one of the cannabinoids in hemp leaves and flowers. Hemp has higher levels of CBD than THC, which is why it is useful for therapies.Hemp-derived CBD products are legal for sale and purchase in the state of Missouri.

Hemp Applications

Besides its medicinal and therapeutic benefits, hemp has other uses in Missouri. Most parts of the hemp plant, including the leaves, flowers, seeds, stalks, and roots, can be converted into a finished product. Hemp is used to make textiles and rope. It is used to make cooking oil and cosmetic oil. In combination with lime, hemp is used to make a lightweight type of concrete. It is also used in the production of environmentally-friendly biodegradable plastics.

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