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Why Is Legislation Necessary in Colorado?

PRIMARY PURPOSE OF A RESOLUTION OR BILL

  • To join together with other states to encourage Congress to allow reintroduction of industrial hemp in the U.S. so that its benefits may be enjoyed by both agriculture and industry.
  • To establish a registration process for farmers desiring to cultivate industrial hemp, contingent upon the prohibition being lifted at the federal level.

WHY LEGISLATION IS NEEDED

  • Legislation prepares Colorado to be competitive in an emerging new industry.
  • Colorado farmers and agricultural colleges and universities are looking for low-input, high-value alternative crops.  Hemp is accurately described by this definition; however, the Drug Enforcement Administration’s interpretation of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act prevents cultivation.  Legislation would legitimize a crop which has been made controversial due to the historic interpretation and enforcement of the law and its confusion with its psychoactive cousin, marijuana.
  • Legislation would support law enforcement which requires a clear legal distinction between cultivation of industrial hemp and that of marijuana.

FUNDING

A registry would include fees paid by farmers in an amount that would cover administrative costs associated with establishing and processing the registration.  The bill allows flexibility in fees collected in the event administrative costs increase.

TIMEFRAME

A greater demand for industrial hemp will occur as more industries discover the benefits of including hemp in their processes.  All industrial nations cultivate industrial hemp except the U.S.  The industry is growing by approximately 10% annually around the world, with the U.S. market purchasing the majority of products made with hemp from Canada, China and India.  When cultivation becomes legal, there will be a market pull for this crop by industries desiring a domestic source.  Though is it difficult to predict when the federal prohibition will be lifted, legislation in 2010 would put Colorado on the start line when that demand is allowed to be met by U.S. farmers.

BACKGROUND AND FACTS

Colorado farmers are facing increasingly limited water supplies. And these constraints affect near- and long-term viability of agriculture and agricultural communities. There is a broad and growing movement across the country to re-introduce industrial hemp as an agricultural option. We in Colorado ought to be especially interested in this crop since the very existence of our farms, farm communities, and Colorado’s economy are potentially at risk if we do not soon find low-input crop alternatives.

There are many economic development opportunities associated with industrial hemp, and there are dozens of industries in Colorado and the U.S. whose pent up demand for this crop could create an industrial boom.

Consider These Facts:

  • American companies are forced to import millions of dollars worth of hemp seed and fiber products, denying American farmers the opportunity to compete for and share in profits for cultivating hemp.
  • Nutritious hemp foods can be found in grocery stores nationwide, and strong durable hemp fibers can be found in the interior parts of millions of American cars.
  • Buildings are constructed of a hemp/lime mixture (hempcrete) that sequesters carbon.
  • The recently revived global hemp market is a thriving commercial success. Retail sales of hemp products in the U.S. are estimated at $365 million annually.
  • Industrial hemp is a high-value, low-input crop that requires little or no pesticides, herbicides, or fungicides, can be dry-land farmed and uses less fertilizer than wheat or corn and does not compete with food crops.
  • Article 28, of the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961, as amended by the 1972 Protocol, states that, “This Convention shall not apply to the cultivation of cannabis plant exclusively for industrial purposes (fiber and seed) or horticultural purposes.”
  • In total, 30 nations grow industrial hemp.  The U.S. is the only industrialized nation that prohibits hemp cultivation, due to the DEA’s refusal to distinguish between low-THC hemp  (0.3%) and high-THC marijuana (5-25%).
  • Simply put, hemp is FOOD, FEED, FIBER, FUEL  AND SHELTER.

STAKEHOLDERS and BENEFICIARIES

Colorado farmers, who require crops that are less water dependent, provide good profits and for which there are various markets.

Colorado farm communities whose futures are uncertain.

Industries such as health food, beauty and cosmetics, auto makers, insulation and concrete manufacturers, textiles, cellulosic ethanol and diesel fuel plants, clothing manufacturers, animal bedding and feed companies, firewood manufacturers, green building products manufacturers, wind turbine manufacturers, bio-composite plants, and more.

Colorado’s economy, which would benefit from this emerging industry while creating manufacturing and other jobs and greening its agricultural and industrial sectors.

The environment.  Industrial hemp feeds the soil, sequesters carbon both in the field and when used as building materials, requires no herbicides, pesticides or fungicides and requires less water than corn.

Consumers who would have more opportunity to choose sustainable, locally grown, locally processed and locally built products.


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