Missouri’s marijuana legalization efforts should learn from the legal hemp industry | Opinion • Missouri Independent – Missouri Independent

Marijuana reform in Missouri has been a hotly contested topic since at least 2016, as thousands of entrepreneurs and commercial entities have competed for access to commercial licensing.

In 2018, the New Approach Missouri campaign won the support of 66% of Missouri voters to put a medical marijuana program into the state’s Constitution. In 2020, controversy erupted as roughly 85% of 2,200 medical marijuana commercial licenses applications were denied. Some applicants lost tens of thousands of dollars in application fees to the state and hundreds of thousands of dollars to consulting firms promising top-tier application writing services. 

To me this whole system seems irredeemably inefficient and corrupt. Worse, the New Approach Missouri campaign — now calling itself Legal Missouri 2022 — is proposing a similar approach to recr…….

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Marijuana reform in Missouri has been a hotly contested topic since at least 2016, as thousands of entrepreneurs and commercial entities have competed for access to commercial licensing.

In 2018, the New Approach Missouri campaign won the support of 66% of Missouri voters to put a medical marijuana program into the state’s Constitution. In 2020, controversy erupted as roughly 85% of 2,200 medical marijuana commercial licenses applications were denied. Some applicants lost tens of thousands of dollars in application fees to the state and hundreds of thousands of dollars to consulting firms promising top-tier application writing services. 

To me this whole system seems irredeemably inefficient and corrupt. Worse, the New Approach Missouri campaign — now calling itself Legal Missouri 2022 — is proposing a similar approach to recreational marijuana licensing.

While others have discussed the licensing issues at length, I have an unique perspective on why these approaches are nonsensical — I’m licensed to legally grow cannabis in Missouri under the agricultural hemp law passed in 2018. 

Under federal law, hemp is cannabis with less than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (aka delta-9 THC), and marijuana is cannabis with more than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol. In 2018, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill, which removed hemp from the federal Controlled Substances Act and created a regulatory architecture that allowed states to run their own hemp programs under the supervision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

In 2019, Missouri opened their hemp program and currently there are more than 300 licensed hemp producers and manufacturers in the state of Missouri. Most farmers currently are producing hemp flower for cannabidiol (CBD) or other exotic cannabinoid products, although I believe the long term potential for this crop to be in industrial seed and fiber products. 

Because the federal Controlled Substances Act does not prohibit isomers (identically composed compounds differentiated by molecular structure) of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol, a federally legal market has sprung up for delta-8 and delta-10 tetrahydrocannabinol as the 2018 Farm Bill legalized products derived from hemp (both delta-8 and delta-10 THC can be created by a chemical conversion from CBD). 

Hence Missouri already has legal THC, albeit delta-8 or delta-10 THC products, pervasively available at headshops, convenience stores and other retail venues. Here in Kansas City, a retailer in the Westport district openly markets “Legal THC – No medical card needed – Ask us how.”

Delta-8 and delta-10 THC products exhibit extremely similar effects to the currently prohibited delta-9 THC, including intoxication for those who haven’t built up a significant tolerance. Yet there are no significant concerns with impaired driving, licensing, or any other issues associated with the controversy over legalizing marijuana & delta-9 THC. 

Opponents of free market marijuana licensing cite Oregon and Oklahoma’s saturated marijuana markets as cautionary tales against unfettered marijuana commerce. However, this situation is solely a function of federal prohibition, and once Congress passes federal marijuana legalization these issues will vanish.

Currently, Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mace of South Carolina has proposed such reforms with the States Reform Act. In the Senate, Democrat Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has proposed similar policies. Hopefully, there …….

Source: https://missouriindependent.com/2022/01/03/missouris-marijuana-legalization-efforts-should-learn-from-the-legal-hemp-industry-opinion/

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