Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Hemp is Back! 1,000-Plus Acres in Colorado

By David Downs
Wed, May 7, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Marijuana’s sober sibling “hemp” — used for millennia as a food, fuel, and fiber — returns to American fields this year in another sign of the end of prohibition.

The State of Colorado — which legalized hemp farming at the ballot in 2012 — closed the application period for hemp farmers this week, and roughly, 1,300 acres of the drought-resistant, tough, cane-like plant could be sown, reports state. America has a half-billion dollar hemp industry for hemp oil, seeds, and fiber — and that is despite a federal war on marijuana and hemp which has prevented its legal, domestic cultivation. US hemp revenue is handed over to importers from Canada and China.

Hemp fiber
  • via flickr w/ cc license
  • Hemp fiber

Hemp product chart
  • North Dakota State
  • Hemp product chart

But that is ending. The massive US Farm Bill passed this year green-lights hemp research in any states allowing it, and states are lining up to do so. Even Republican know-nothing Mitch McConnell is welcoming hemp back into its former home of Kentucky.

Colorado farmers had to smuggle in seeds for this year’s hemp crop — which won’t get you high. Hemp farmers technically face felony federal marijuana cultivation charges, but that seems unlikely. A more real concern is cross-pollination.

Pollen from hemp fields can travel as far as three miles and — ironically — pollinate and destroy batches of consumer marijuana, which is an all-female crop that must remain unfertilized through harvesting. In other words, the dawn of “hemp districts” and “cannabis-only districts” seems imminent.

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