Colo. Hemp Legislation Would Launch Industry

Mar 24, 2013

Colorado’s hemp-growing indus­try will kick off on a mod­est scale under state leg­is­la­tion expected to be intro­duced next week. The bill spon­sored by state Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass Vil­lage, would enable farm­ers to reg­is­ter for 10-acre research-and-development plots to test the via­bil­ity of dif­fer­ent hemp vari­eties. Hemp is genet­i­cally related to mar­i­juana but con­tains lit­tle or no THC, the psy­choac­tive sub­stance in mar­i­juana. The seeds and fibers of hemp have dozens of com­mer­cial uses in foods, cos­met­ics, tex­tiles and build­ing mate­ri­als. The pas­sage of Amend­ment 64 last year legal­ized in Col­orado the pos­ses­sion and cul­ti­va­tion of both mar­i­juana and hemp. How­ever, grow­ing hemp, as with mar­i­juana, is still ille­gal under fed­eral law. That’s one of the rea­sons that hemp back­ers are propos­ing to launch the indus­try on a rel­a­tively small scale. Schwartz said Thurs­day at a hemp forum in Love­land that 10-acre R&D plots grown under state guide­lines are less likely to attract fed­eral law enforce­ment atten­tion than big­ger com­mer­cial farms. The pro­posed leg­is­la­tion would not pro­hibit larger farms, but back­ers say it is unlikely that farm­ers would choose to start on a large scale. “The real­ity of the sit­u­a­tion is that hemp prob­a­bly won’t be grown on a mass com­mer­cial level for a few years because the crop will still need to be processed in-state and it will take a while to build that infra­struc­ture and mar­ket,” said Saman­tha Walsh, polit­i­cal direc­tor of the advo­cacy group Hemp Cleans. The bill would direct the Col­orado Depart­ment of Agri­cul­ture to estab­lish rules for reg­is­tra­tion and crop test­ing. Hemp-growing has been legal in Canada since 1998. The indus­try is expand­ing rapidly. In 2012, a record 52,000 acres were grown. Pro­jec­tions for this year are 75,000 acres. Cana­dian farm­ers at the Thurs­day forum said the crop is resis­tant to drought and weeds, rel­a­tively easy to grow, and prof­itable com­pared to other main­stream crops. Man­i­toba hemp sci­en­tist Anndrea Her­mann said the Cana­dian crop recently has gen­er­ated aver­age prof­its of $255 per acre com­pared with $208 for corn, $201 for canola and $100 for wheat. David Bron­ner, whose com­pany Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps is a major buyer of hemp oil, said at the forum that Colorado’s efforts to estab­lish an indus­try may help per­suade the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to end its pro­hi­bi­tion. “A lit­tle civil dis­obe­di­ence in the mix would has­ten the end of this cha­rade,” he said. Source: Den­ver Post (CO) Author: Steve Raabe, The Den­ver Post Pub­lished: March 22, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 The Den­ver Post Web­site: http://​www​.den​ver​post​.com/ Con­tact: openforum@​denverpost.​com

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