21 applicants in Colorado win approval to grow hemp

March 27, 2014

It has been three weeks since the Colorado Department of Agriculture began accepting applications from residents wanting to grow hemp, and the state agency has thus far given the go-ahead to 21 applications — five coming from three businesses that want to grow in Weld County.

Under regulations that took effect this year, the state department of agriculture is tasked with registering farmers who grow hemp, which is contrived from the cannabis plant. Unlike marijuana, it doesn't contain enough THC to be used as a drug.

Ron Carleton, the state's deputy commissioner of agriculture, said farmers have shown a great deal of interest in the crop, which doesn't require as much water as others and has a wide variety of uses, from fiberglass to cooking oil to fabric.

The U.S. is the world's No. 1 importer of hemp, and Colorado hemp enthusiasts — including farmers young and old from across the state — see economic opportunity in being the first ones in the nation allowed to grow it.

Under Colorado's new laws, growers can cultivate the plant for research and development purposes — also authorized at the federal level by Congress — or for commercial purposes, which is still technically illegal under federal law.

Carleton said that of the 25 applications the state ag department has received so far, it has approved 10 commercial and 11 research-and-development applications.

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