Last week, we told you about the beginning of America's first hemp harvest in more than fifty years, which started in late September in southeastern Colorado. This past weekend, that harvest continued with 45 volunteers from six different states, who converged on grower Ryan Loflin's 55-acre hemp plot to finish hand-harvesting his historic plants.
"We had a great group of people," Loflin says.
Now, he'll begin the hard work of separating the different parts of the plant and processing them.
Loflin doesn't yet have an exact measurement of how much hemp he was able to harvest. He planted two varieties in his main plot: a Canadian variety and a European variety. (He has three additional varieties in a smaller research plot.) The Canadian variety -- which was dioicous, meaning that the individual plants were either male or female -- didn't fare so well. But the monoicous European variety, whose plants had both male and female reproductive organs, did much better, Loflin says.
Hand-harvesting the hemp allowed for the entire plant to be picked, including the roots. Loflin has takers for every single part of it; he personally plans to press some of the seed into hemp oil. But he emphasizes that it's important to save the bulk of it for next year.
"The seed is really what we're after this year, to have an American seed bank," he says.
Colorado hemp advocate Erik Hunter was among those who helped Loflin with the harvest. The first gathering in September was more symbolic, Hunter says. This past weekend, however, was "like real work," he says.
"I don't mind doing it because it's hemp," Hunter adds. "People have so much pent-up frustration with the system that it's really an important act of civil disobedience to be openly participating in such an event."
While Colorado's Amendment 64 required the state to enact regulations for growing industrial hemp here (a process that's underway), the plant is still illegal at the federal level. However, the Department of Justice's recent memo indicating that it won't sue to stop states' marijuana laws has made hemp advocates breathe a sigh of relief, too.
"The more people who do it, the more obvious it becomes that this law is completely unenforceable and unnecessary," Hunter says.
See below for a photo from this past weekend's harvest.
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: Anti-Proposition AA group wants U.S. Attorney to weigh in on pot tax."Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at email@example.com