Mississippi became one step closer to legalizing the cultivation of hemp after it easily passed the House this afternoon. 

The debate was lengthy, many questions were asked, amendments offered, but in the end the Mississippi Hemp Cultivation Act passed 105-9. The nine voting against the bill were all Republicans: Reps. Jim Beckett, Donnie Bell, Scott Bounds, Jill Ford, Bill Kinkade, Sam Mims, Ken Morgan, Karl Oliver, and Troy Smith. 

Ford, a Madison Republican, offered a toxic amendment that would require any hemp plants “that are processed for use in medicinal products or products that are ingested or applied to the body must be grown and cultivated in organic soil.” This would mean soil that does not contain man-made contaminants, something Rep. Tommy Reynolds (D-Charleston), the author of the bill, said would render the law useless and unworkable. The amendment was tabled on a voice vote.

A near identical bill has been offered in the Senate where legalization stalled in 2019, and was turned into the task force that met last year. But momentum is on the side of legalization. 

If that is true, this would just be part of a national trend. 

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. 

In fact, hemp cultivation is legal in 47 states today. Mississippi, Idaho, and South Dakota are the lone holdouts. And the South Dakota legislature Ok’d hemp legalization last year, but it was vetoed by Gov. Kristi Noem.    

The act will be effective after passage, something supporters hope will allow farmers to cultivate hemp this growing season.