A flag made of industrial hemp fibers will fly over the Colorado Capitol on Thursday, June 9, to celebrate Colorado's connection with the plant.
For the third straight year, Governor Jared Polis is recognizing Colorado Hemp Week by raising a flag made from hemp fibers. Created by an executive order issued by Polis
in 2020, Colorado Hemp Week celebrates hemp's contributions to the state annually, from June 6 to June 13.
“I am proud to celebrate Colorado’s thriving hemp industry that continues to make great Colorado products from ice cream to paper to healthy and delicious foods and more, and to continue our nation-leading work innovating, adapting, and finding new ways to use the many benefits of hemp to better our communities, better our economy, and better our state," Polis says in a statement to Westword
Polis first raised a flag made from hemp as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives nearly a decade ago. On July 4, 2013, the then-congressman flew Colorado native Michael Bowman's hemp-made American flag over the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., despite the flag's source material being federally illegal
at the time.
The Colorado Hemp Association
has procured a hemp flag for Polis each year during Colorado Hemp Week, initially using a hemp-made American flag from Kentucky. (Industrial hemp was legalized by Congress in 2018, so the handoff could be made in the open.) The COHA turned to Colorado flag designer Margaret Eversole for locally made flags last year
, however, with Eversole making both American and Colorado flags to fly over the Capitol on Colorado Hemp Week in 2021.
The same Colorado flag will fly over the State Capitol this week, but the American flag was sold in an auction last year.
According to the COHA, the flag-raising is just part of the action during Colorado Hemp Week.
“This year we are excited to expand Colorado Hemp Week and look forward to highlighting events and businesses all month,” COHA president Bethleen McCall says. “It’s great that we can recognize our farmers and all the benefits this crop has provided to Colorado, and we are really enjoying this tradition.”
Since becoming governor in 2018, Polis has made several pledges to the state's hemp industry, including launching the Colorado Hemp Advancement & Management Plan (CHAMP) Initiative after the Farm Bill federally legalized industrial hemp farming in late 2018. It hasn't all been a hemp honeymoon, though.
After leading the country in acreage devoted to hemp farming in 2018, Colorado's hemp industry started flagging, and the decline continues. According to a 2021 market report
, registered hemp acreage in Colorado decreased almost 44 percent from 2019 to 2021. Immediate improvement isn't anticipated by the hemp industry, but there is still confidence in Colorado's potential.
Liz Geisleman and thousands of hemp industry members gathered at the NoCo Hemp Expo in March to discuss current and future issues facing the hemp space. According to Geisleman, hemp probably hasn't hit the bottom yet, but Colorado businesses are in a better position than those in most other states.
"I believe Colorado has a strategic advantage to rebound faster than other states," she said, "because of our strong policies, support from key elected officials and longevity in hemp production."