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The Missouri Department of Agriculture announced procedures Wednesday for applying to grow industrial hemp in Missouri.

Since the federal legalization of industrial hemp growth for research purposes in 2014, hemp farmers in Missouri have seen many changes to state and federal laws and regulations. While they should anticipate more changes in the future, farmers can now legally grow hemp in Missouri if they apply and complete a background check.

Hemp is defined by Merriam-Webster as a “tall, widely cultivated Asian herb that is cultivated for its tough bast fiber and edible seeds and oil and that is often separated into a tall, loosely branched species and a low-growing densely branched species.”

Cultivated hemp is often distinguished from cannabis by possessing very low levels of the psychoactive substance THC, according to the dictionary.

On Oct. 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture published an interim final rule, which established the federal regulatory framework for industrial hemp growth in the United States after Senate Bill 133 went into effect in August.

These laws legalized the regulated production and distribution of industrial hemp, removed hemp acreage limits in Missouri and created framework for the registrations and permits.

Producer registration allows people to grow industrial hemp in Missouri and sell their harvested products once they are confirmed to have acceptable levels of THC. The Agricultural Hemp Propagule and Seed Permit authorizes a person to sell, distribute or offer for sale any viable industrial hemp in Missouri, including seeds, according to a news release from October.

Farmers interested in growing hemp must complete a written application, create parcel maps and complete a background check for fingerprints and criminal history. Sample applications, mapping guidance and information is now available online for producers to review.

Dec. 16 is the first day that interested farmers can start the application and background check process. Producers will need to await final approval before they can start purchasing, receiving or planting industrial help seeds, according to the website’s timeline.

According to the Missouri Department of Agriculture’s website, the basic requirements for registration or a permit are:

  • The applicant must be a Missouri resident or treat the state as a permanent home.
  • The registered location cannot be within a residential structure.
  • The applicant and all key participants must pass a state and federal criminal history fingerprint background check and not have been found guilty of, or pled guilty to, a felony offense under any state or federal law regarding the possession, distribution, manufacturing, cultivation or use of a controlled substance in the 10 years immediately preceding the application date.

Those interested in becoming a producer can view more information related to industrial hemp at the Missouri Department of Agriculture website.

Supervising editor is Hannah Hoffmeister.

This article originally ran on columbiamissourian.com.

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