Hemp: Read draft regulations for growing industrial hemp

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The Colorado Department of Agriculture has released draft regulations for the growing of industrial hemp. The rules, which are on view below, specify that farmers must pay a fee of $200 plus an additional $1 per acre to grow hemp for commercial purposes, must disclose the location of their crop and, if chosen, must pay for state inspections to ensure that their crop contains less than 0.3 percent THC.

Get details and read the entire draft below.

Colorado is on the leading edge of industrial hemp production. It started with last year's pot-centric Amendment 64, which also directed the state legislature to "enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp" by July 1, 2014. Lawmakers beat that deadline in May when they approved a bill that created a nine-member advisory committee tasked with helping the department come up with a way to register hemp farmers and inspect their crops. The bill gave the department a deadline of March 1, 2014 to get that process in place.

Some farmers didn't wait, even though the department issued a statement in May clarifying that growing industrial hemp wasn't okay just yet. In September, farmer Ryan Loflin began harvesting 55 acres of hemp that he'd planted in the spring. He finished hand-picking the plants (with help from 45 volunteers!) earlier this month.

But for the majority of would-be hemp farmers, the department's regulations will dictate how they move forward. The draft rules allow for the growing of hemp for two different purposes: commercial, and research and development. The regulations differ for each.

Hemp is still illegal at the federal level, though many advocates have taken the federal Department of Justice's recent memo stating that it wouldn't sue to stop states' marijuana laws as a sign that the feds won't interfere with states' hemp laws, either.

The Agriculture Department will host a public hearing on the proposed regulations on November 6.

Continue to read highlights from the draft regulations. Some highlights from the draft regulations include:

  • By May 1 of the year in which they intend to grow hemp, applicants must provide a "global positioning system location taken at the approximate center of the growing area(s); a map of the land area on the which the applicant plans to grow the industrial hemp, showing the boundaries and dimensions of the growing area(s) in acres or square feet; and the location of different varieties within the growing area(s), if applicable."
  • "The annual registration fee for commercial production of industrial hemp shall be $200 plus $1/acre. The annual registration fee for production of industrial hemp for research and development shall be $100 plus $5/acre."
  • Prior to planting, commercial registrants must provide a report verifying that the crop "is of a type and variety of industrial hemp that will produce a THC concentration of no more than 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis." Research-and-development registrants do not have to provide such a report.
  • At least seven days prior to harvesting the crop, commercial registrants must provide documentation that they have "entered into a purchase agreement with an in-state industrial hemp processor. If the registrant has not entered into such an agreement, the registrant shall include a statement of intended disposition of its industrial hemp crop." Meanwhile, research-and-development registrants must provide "a statement of the intended disposition of the registrant's industrial hemp crop."
  • The state agriculture commissioner will select up to 33 percent of registrants to be inspected each year. Samples of hemp crops will be tested to determine "the THC concentration on a dry-weight basis."
  • If a commercial sample is found to have more than 0.3 percent THC, the commissioner "may summarily suspend and revoke the registration" of that farmer. Research-and-development samples may contain more than 0.3 percent THC, as long as the crop is "destroyed or utilized on site in a manner approved of and verified by the commissioner." Samples found to contain more than 1 percent THC will be given to law enforcement.
  • "Registrants selected for inspection shall pay a charge of $35 dollars per hour per inspector for actual drive time, mileage, inspection and sampling time." Registrants must also reimburse the state for "all laboratory analysis costs."

Mike Bowman, a Colorado farmer-turned-advocate, sits on the advisory committee. "I think we ended up with a pragmatic, executable and replicable set of regulations," he says. "We wanted something that met the law but wasn't overly onerous."

That said, he expects the regulations to change over time, as Colorado farmers -- and the state's agriculture officials -- learn more about a crop that hasn't been grown in the United States on large-scale basis since World War II. "This has been a challenge, in part because this industry has been gone for 75 years," Bowman says.

He says the fees included in the regulations are "best guesses" and he admits that the 0.3-percent THC level is "somewhat arbitrary;" any crop with less than 1 percent THC isn't harmful, he says. "The reality is that what the law says and what people believe to be a truism doesn't necessarily reflect science," he says. "Those are things that will evolve over time, as we legalize it at the federal level and as know more about the crop."

The department will host a public rule-making hearing, at which the public is invited to weigh in on the draft regulations, on November 6 at 2 p.m. at its headquarters at 700 Kipling Street in Lakewood. In the meantime, read the full draft below.

Continue to read the full draft.

Draft Hemp Regulations

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Photos of the Day: First legal U.S. hemp harvest in more than fifty years."

Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com

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