Hemp: Two weeks after registration begins, twelve producers approved to grow

It's been two weeks since Colorado farmers could begin registering with the state Department of Agriculture to grow industrial hemp, and the department reports that twelve producers have completed the process.

As of March 17, seven producers had registered to grow hemp for commercial purposes and five producers had registered to grow it for the purposes of research and development. And there are even more would-be hemp farmers reportedly in the pipeline, waiting for their applications to be approved.

Producers have until May 1 to register if they'd like to grow hemp during the 2014 growing season. The registration application can be found on the Colorado Department of Agriculture website. The annual fee for growing the previously outlawed crop for commercial purposes is $200 plus $1 per acre, while the fee for growing hemp for research and development purposes is $100 plus $5 an acre. Research and development plots are limited to ten acres or less.

Colorado took its first steps toward legalizing industrial hemp when voters passed the marijuana-centric Amendment 64 in 2012. In addition to legalizing marijuana use for adults over the age of 21, the measure directed the state legislature to "enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp" by July 1, 2014. In May 2013, lawmakers approved a bill that created a nine-member advisory committee tasked with helping the Colorado Department of Agriculture come up with a way to register hemp farmers and inspect their crops by March 1, 2014. In late 2013, the department issued its final regulations for growing hemp in Colorado. Registration began March 1.

But the department wants farmers to understand that while growing hemp is legal in Colorado, it's still illegal at the federal level. That's why it has issued a cautionary press release. Among its warnings: Colorado's hemp seed stock is untested and may contain variable THC levels; hemp fields will be randomly tested and any plants containing more than 0.3 percent THC will be in violation of the law.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Hemp: Read final regulations for growing industrial hemp in Colorado."

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

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