Hemp In Colorado

Why The Highest Quality Hemp Grows In Colorado

Colorado produces some of the most important research on hemp farming practices, cutting edge legislation, and the highest quality hemp products in the world. Have you ever been curious about how Colorado became the state known for its legislation around cannabis? And what exactly are the laws surrounding hemp cultivation in Colorado? 

Read on for a history of hemp in Colorado, information on the laws around hemp as they stand today, who is growing hemp in Colorado, and more.

Public Opinion On Hemp In Colorado

It’s no secret that Colorado has been hemp and cannabis-friendly for decades. As one of the earliest states to pass medical marijuana laws, and later to legalize recreational use of cannabis, Colorado is known internationally for its relaxed attitude towards cannabis. 

For over twenty years, citizens of Colorado have been fighting to overturn the designation of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug. In the 1990’s activists in Colorado began petitioning for legalization and in November 2000 Colorado passed the first statewide medical marijuana law. 

In 2005 Denver voters passed a bill that decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults, and in 2006 a bill to decriminalize marijuana statewide made its way onto the ballot but failed after it received only 41% of the vote.

In November 2012 Amendment 64 passed in Colorado, legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21 making Colorado one of the first states in the country to legalize recreational marijuana. The economic benefits of cannabis production in Colorado began to sway even some of its strongest detractors, and after the 2018 Farm Bill passed, the rush to grow hemp and produce hemp products in Colorado has sometimes been referred to as a second “Gold Rush.”

How Long Has Colorado Been Growing Hemp?

Colorado farmers have been growing industrial hemp since 2014. Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana and passed in 2012, also included a directive to create legislation around the production and cultivation of industrial hemp. This meant that in 2013 – a full year before the 2014 Farm Bill passed to allow hemp pilot programs across the country – Colorado began working on laws around hemp production, designating the Colorado Department of Agriculture to be in charge of regulating all hemp production. 

Colorado hemp production began in earnest in 2014 after the Colorado State Hemp Program was formed and, thanks to Amendment 64, Colorado was able to issue licenses for hemp cultivation to both research institutions and commercial growers, unlike most other states.

How Does Colorado Regulate Hemp?

The 2018 Farm Bill gives states the right to regulate the production of agricultural hemp themselves, and Colorado is poised to do so. To this end, the Colorado Senate unanimously adopted a resolution to reduce federal regulation of hemp farming in the state and adjust the regulations proposed by the FDA regarding hemp production. From the beginning, hemp farmers in Colorado have had a say in legislation around hemp cultivation and much of the legislation around hemp in Colorado has been written or informed by the people themselves who are producing hemp and this resolution was no different.

Since 2014 Colorado has focused on creating policies that treat hemp as an agricultural product and that protect both farmers and consumers. The DEA poses some of the most challenging issues facing hemp farmers and producers in Colorado, particularly the mandate to destroy any hemp crops that exceed the 0.3% THC limitation designated by the 2018 Farm Bill. (The DEA continues to be involved in industrial hemp production due to the presence of traces of THC in hemp and THC’s continued classification as a Schedule 1 drug.) 

Like the 2018 Farm Bill, Colorado state law requires that industrial hemp tests at or below 0.3% THC on a dry weight basis. However, given the variability of hemp crops and the challenge of keeping THC levels consistent across growing and storage conditions Colorado lawmakers propose a more lenient approach, allowing remediation for hemp crops that test at a higher level of THC. 

How Much Hemp Is Grown In Colorado?

Since 2018 Farm Bill passed hemp production has skyrocketed in Colorado. In 2019 hemp production nearly tripled, going from 30,000 to over 80,000 acres of farmland devoted to hemp, making Colorado the highest producing state in the United States. Production is only expected to increase in 2020, as the so-called “gold rush” or “green rush” continues.

Who Is Growing It?

Hemp is being grown all over the state, in fact, as of January 2020 more than 3,000 registrants were active in 52 of the 64 counties in Colorado. While some farms were started exclusively to grow hemp, many hemp farmers in Colorado were growing other agricultural products and have converted some or all of their land over to hemp farming. To grow hemp in Colorado, you must be licensed through the Colorado Department of Agriculture – it is still illegal for individuals to grow hemp without a license. 

How Is Hemp Processed In Colorado?

Hemp products such as raw hemp or hemp seeds are fairly straight forward and do not require any special licensing. However, hemp that is intended to be used for cannabinoid-based products (CBD isolate or full-spectrum hemp oils) involves a special form of processing, which in turn requires a separate license from that of growing hemp. Many farmers whose crops are grown for that purpose simply use a hemp processor, an industry that is growing quickly in Colorado which just saw the construction of the largest hemp processor in the country. Others (like Functional Remedies) control the entire process from growing it to producing the end product.

Resources On Hemp In Colorado

  • Colorado Department Of Agriculture – The Colorado Department of Agriculture regulates the production of hemp across the state and is the best resource for learning about the laws and regulations governing hemp cultivation.
  • The Hemp Resource Center At Colorado State University – An organization that spearheads some of the biggest research projects on hemp in the state, the Hemp Resource Center at CSU is a great source for academic information pertaining to hemp growing in Colorado. They will also be hosting the National Hemp Research & Education Conference in March 2020.
  • The Colorado Hemp Project – The Colorado Hemp Project is an organic farming consultancy based in Denver, Colorado. They assist farmers throughout the United States with industrial hemp seeds appropriate for farming as well as research and information on growing hemp. 

Conclusion 

Due to early advocacy of industrial hemp, Colorado hemp producers and legislation are leading the way for the rest of the United States. From experienced farmers and processors to a thoughtful, invested legislative system, the state is in an excellent position to continue leading in the hemp industry for years to come.

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