Colorado now has a week — and a flag — dedicated to hemp.
Governor Jared Polis signed an order earlier this week proclaiming that, going forward, the period between June 6 and June 13 will be Colorado Hemp Week in this state. To cap off the week honoring the plant, Polis flew an American flag made from hemp at the west end of the Colorado State Capitol on Thursday, June 11, with hemp advocates hoping to fly it on the dome at the top of the Capitol building if that flag pole is repaired in time.
This isn't the first time Polis has made arrangements to fly an American flag made of hemp fibers. On July 4, 2013, the then-congressman helped Colorado native Michael Bowman's hemp flag fly over the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., despite the flag's source material being federally illegal at the time. This year, the flag — made by Mike Lewis and his Kentucky Cloth Project — didn't have to worry about the feds, with hemp legalized in Colorado in 2014 and on a nationwide scale in 2018.
"We're proud to be supporting the capacity of Colorado farmers through regulatory reform, workforce development, market expansion [and] international commercial outreach to find the opportunities for the hemp industry," Polis said in a video shared with the hemp industry after declaring Colorado Hemp Week. "My name is Jared Polis, and hemp: It's everything."
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The flag was actually flown at the Capitol by accident on June 11, according to Hemp Industry Association boardmember Samantha Walsh, who help push the effort for Colorado Hemp Week and the flag. Walsh says a member of the Colorado State Patrol responsible for raising flags at the Capitol saw the hemp flag on his desk, and, assuming that it was the next in line for flying at the west pole, put the flag up without knowing its origins.
"They have to repair the flagpole on the dome because it's bent, and there's one person in the country who can do this repair, because he has to climb up there and thread this rope to fix it," Walsh explains. "We're still hoping to fly it up there Saturday, but at least now we can officially say we've flown a hemp flag at the State Capitol for Hemp Week."
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Formerly owned by Dr. Bronner's soap (one of the country's largest wholesale hemp buyers, which uses it for soap production) as national Hemp History Week, HIA purchased the rights to the name and tweaked it to fit Colorado, Walsh says. The original plans were to debut Colorado Hemp Week during the first week of June, but that was delayed to pay proper attention to protests over George Floyd's death and police brutality.
"We wanted to be mindful and push it back a week. It's still not the best possible time and space, but it's not about media attention. We just wanted get it done and educated the public about the usefulness of this crop," she says, adding that every year going forward will now have a Colorado Hemp Week from June 6 to June 13.
A legal farming crop since 2014 thanks to the state's decision to legalize recreational marijuana, hemp found an early welcome back in Colorado compared to the rest of the country. That head start has enabled Colorado to reach "more than 60,000 outdoor acres and 15 million indoor square feet currently growing hemp," according to Polis, which is "more than any other state."
Update: This story was updated at 2 p.m. June 13 to reflect new information about the origins of the flag.