A First for Colorado: Tree Free Hemp Is Producing Paper From Seed to Sheet

A First for Colorado: Tree Free Hemp Is Producing Paper From Seed to Sheet
Tree Free Hemp
Keep Westword Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Denver and help keep the future of Westword free.

For the first time, hemp paper is being produced in Colorado from seed to sheet. Loveland's Tree Free Hemp has been producing hemp paper since 2013, but until this year, it's been getting the fiber from other countries. Now the entire process is local.

"It's grown in Colorado, it's processed in Colorado, it's manufactured in Colorado, it's printed in Colorado. It's truly homegrown," says Morris Beegle, a former concert promoter now focused on promoting hemp through the Colorado Hemp Company, which he founded in 2012, and the NoCo Hemp Expo.

Beegle wants to unleash all the potential the hemp plant has to offer, since it is "the most complete and useful plant available to humankind," he says. He was convinced those uses included paper, so he formed Tree Free Hemp and kept fiddling with a formula to make the process local.

Today the plants are grown by hemp farmers in Sterling, then processed in Fort Lupton. The process takes the stalks and runs them through a counter-current reactor that separates the pulp, the lignins and the sugars. Each of those are used for different purposes; the pulp is mixed with recycled materials to make paper.

At first, Beegle explains, Tree Free Hemp made a couple of batches of hand sheets to make sure that the formula his team had created would work. Once they got the formulas down, they started production in earnest, creating upwards of 2,000 sheets that are about a foot and a half long and fourteen inches wide and can be divided.

"They're all handmade," Beegle says. "It's got specialty art purposes [like for watercolors]. We're doing custom hand-numbered posters for concerts."

But hemp deserves a starring role of its own. It's important to shine the light on the cool companies and the top thought leaders in the hemp business, Beegle says: "We've got to give them a platform to promote what they've done and try to get this industry moving."

Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.


Join the Westword community and help support independent local journalism in Denver.