Why hemp industry leaders say Colorado is poised for success in the sector
By Monica Vendituoli- Reporter for the Denver Business Journal
“Colorado hemp industry leaders said Gov. Jared Polis’ decision to sign two hemp-related bills into law last week will help Colorado remain leader in the emerging sector.
“‘Right now, hemp is easy to grow but hard to regulate,’ Stephen Mueller, CTO and founder of Boulder-based CBD manufacturer Mile High Labs, said in an email. ‘We’re thrilled Governor Polis has signed this bill, as it should allay the concerns of Colorado farmers and make it easier for them to bring their product to market.’
“The signings took place at a property owned by Lafayette-based Front Range Biosciences, an agricultural biotech company that serves coffee and cannabis producers.
“‘FRB is proud to stand alongside so many other Colorado hemp companies as leaders in the fight to legalize and appropriately regulate hemp,’ Dr. Jonathan Vaught, CEO of Front Range Biosciences, said in an email. ‘Governor Polis has been a strong advocate for the hemp industry.’
“Senate Bill 220 mandates that Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg write a plan for regulating the state’s hemp industry that aligns with the 2018 Farm Bill and send it to the U.S. Department of Agriculture to receive its approval.
“‘The passage of SB19-220 further solidifies Colorado’s position as a leader in the industrial hemp space,’ Eduardo Provencio, general counsel for Denver-based CBD company Mary’s Nutritionals, said in an email. ‘Companies like Mary’s Nutritionals will reap the benefits of the state providing a near seamless transition from former Farm Bill provisions to those newly enacted.’
“And Senate Bill 240 sets the registration fee for industrial hemp product manufacturers at $300. The law also authorizes local governments to create their own rules related to hemp businesses, though state law trumps local government rules. Furthermore, the law will allow the state’s Department of Agriculture to create a stakeholder group to study the regulation of hemp businesses and products.
“‘The passage of legislation ensuring the conformance of Colorado’s hemp program to the new federal hemp regime and bolstering state and local regulation of hemp products signals a promising new chapter in Colorado’s role as a leader in the U.S. hemp economy,’ Shawn Hauser, chair of the Hemp and Cannabinoids Practice Group at the cannabis-focused Vicente Sederberg law firm, said in an email.
“In December, Congress passed the 2018 Farm Bill which removed industrial hemp from the definition of ‘marijuana’ under the Controlled Substances Act and defined hemp as a legal agricultural commodity akin to corn and wheat. Additionally, it gave the USDA jurisdiction over hemp production regulation on a federal level.
“Shannon Gray, a spokeswoman with the state’s Department of Revenue’s Marijuana Enforcement Division, said her division does not regulate hemp.
“‘Industrial hemp cultivations are regulated by the [state] Department of Agriculture and CBD derived from industrial hemp in food and beverages is regulated by the [state] Department of Public Health and Environment [in addition to federal regulation],’ Gray said in an email.
“Hemp is defined in the 2018 Farm bill as sativa cannabis plant that contain no more than .3 percent THC, which is the psychoactive substance that gives cannabis users a ‘high.’ Hemp is the primary source of cannabidiol, or CBD, which is growing in popularity.
“Certain childhood epilepsy syndromes can be treated with CBD, according to Harvard Medical School. Some also have found it to be helpful for conditions such as insomnia, inflammation and anxiety, but those impacts have yet to be proven, according to previous Denver Business Journal reporting.
“Hemp is a growing industry in Colorado. The state’s Department of Agriculture told DBJ in December that more than 17,000 acres of hemp are grown in Colorado. Mueller added that the newly-passed laws have given hemp companies such as Mile High Labs the ‘confidence’ to keep expanding in the state.
“‘We’re proud to be headquartered in the state that is leading the nation in hemp and cannabis policy,’ Mueller said. ‘We look forward to working with the governor and state legislators to continue moving Colorado and the industry forward.'”