By: Cecil King
Florida Pushed Past Missouri with Hemp Bill
Missouri legislators have been one-upped again as another state has legalized hemp cultivation.
Nineteen states have done what Missouri legislators have failed to do for the last three years running; allow Missouri to start an industrial hemp pilot program. Florida will now move ahead of Missouri in cultivating hemp.
Florida’s Governor Rick Scott signed an Industrial Hemp Pilot Project bill into law on June 16, 2017. The hemp bill passed the Florida House with a majority support of 108 YEAS to 6 NAYS and then passed the Florida Senate unopposed with 32 YEAS to 0 NAYS.
Missouri’s Senate killed the only hope Missouri farmers and university researchers had to join the nationwide scientific “green rush” of hemp research and cultivation by not advancing Paul Curtman’s HB 170 hemp bill in the 2017 session. Missouri’s next chance will be the 2018 legislative session.
The 2014 Federal Farm Act signed into law by the Obama administration gave Missouri the green light to permit Missouri universities and their research partners, under the oversight of the Missouri Department of Agriculture, to cultivate hemp for research and determine future uses as a commercial agricultural commodity product.
After the Federal Farm Act became law, legislators in 19 other states quickly passed Hemp Pilot programs into law without hesitation acknowledging the commercial potential of hemp, a non-psychoactive cannabis strain. Florida will join these other states in developing valuable hemp seed stocks and developing modern cultivation techniques to grow hemp.
Hemp fiber is used in textiles, hemp plastics, paper products, building materials and other industrial applications while the seeds and oil can be used for nutrition, cooking, soaps and other body care consumer products.
The Federal Farm Act allows a state to pass into law a pilot hemp program if they develop and establish the rules, regulations and oversight in partnership with authorized institutions of higher education or the state’s department of agriculture.
The most obvious beneficiaries of a Missouri hemp pilot program would be bioscience researchers in the Missouri’s university system as well as the private researchers in the life science firms that partner with Missouri’s university research teams.
Missouri’s growing biotech economic sector is a powerful job creating engine with enormous positive impact on Missouri’s economy. The Missouri Department of Economic Development’s (MDED) publication, Economic Sector Analysis, Research and Planning Report, indicates that in 2010 the creation of 100 new primary biotech jobs would generate 440 additional ancillary jobs with a payroll of $15.90 million.
If Missouri could create 100 new biotech jobs in hemp research, it would result in $764,000 in additional general sales tax revenues, $469,200 in additional individual income tax revenues, $141,200 in additional corporate income tax revenues, and $91,910 in additional
motor fuel sales tax revenues, based upon statistics from the MDED economic report.
Missouri Senators who blocked 2017 hemp legislation are allowing anti-science and anti-economic policies to work against Missouri citizens’ economic future through their legislative inaction.
Failure to pass HB 170 works against the goals of several Missouri biotechnology advocacy organizations and research entities. The large non-profit Missouri Biotechnology Association’s stated mission is “dedicated to growing and protecting Missouri’s bioscience and high tech companies,” and “developing a superior (biotech) work force,” but their members scientific work won’t involve hemp research this year or any future years without passage of viable hemp legislation.
Florida’s A & M University and the University of Florida will join the more than 30 colleges and universities participating in hemp research across the nation. Both Florida universities will work with private partnerships to conduct and pay for the research. Florida’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services will oversee all registered research programs with hemp.