After 24 hours of back-and-forth, the Senate has concurred with changes from the House to a bill that will authorize the cultivation of hemp in Mississippi.
When the adoption of Senate Bill 2725, Mississippi will become the 48th state in the nation to legalize hemp.
We have seen a massive move toward hemp legalization at the state level after the 2018 Farm Bill expanded the cultivation of hemp. Previously, federal law did not differentiate hemp from other cannabis plants, even though you can’t get high from hemp. Because of this, it was essentially made illegal. But we did have pilot programs or limited purpose small-scale program for hemp, largely for research.
Now, hemp cultivation is much broader, with the Farm Bill allowing the transfer of hemp across state lines, with no restrictions on the sale, transport, or possession of hemp-derived products. There are still limitations, but most states have taken the opportunity to find new markets for those who would like to cultivate hemp.
Yesterday, a concurrence vote – which required three/fifths for passage – narrowly failed on a 31-21 vote. We then saw a motion to reconsider entered and withdrawn, before it was entered again prior to today’s concurrence vote.
While there has been an unsuccessful push for years from liberty-minded Republicans and many Democrats to legalize hemp, this bill came out of the Hemp Cultivation Task Force that met last year and heard from officials in various fields. This included law enforcement, who raised multiple concerns over the ability to police this crop that looks like – but isn’t – marijuana.
The bill, like at the federal level, is heavily regulated, and whether Mississippi farmers will see a boom from hemp remains to be seen.
The bill is effective upon passage.