Hemp: Read draft regulations for growing industrial hemp

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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.

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar