By The Associated Press
A handful of Colorado farmers grew industrial hemp last year without interference from law enforcement or state agriculture officials. But the opening Saturday of Colorado’s industrial-hemp registry is the first opportunity for farmers to comply with licensure requirements through a state Department of Agriculture.
Hemp farmers will have to submit to state inspections to make sure they’re not growing the plant’s psychoactive cousin, marijuana.
The state Agriculture Department warned aspiring hemp farmers that they may still jeopardize separate farm loans and crop insurance if they grow hemp. In an announcement to farmers last week, the department urged farmers to contact a lawyer before proceeding.
Pesticide rules for regulated hemp haven’t been finalized, but the department told farmers to expect guidance on “extremely limited” pesticide options soon.
A new federal Farm Bill passed this year allows 10 states that permit hemp programs to regulate the crop. Previously, permission from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration was required to grow hemp, though finished hemp has always been legal.
A handful of hemp farmers and enthusiasts marked the opening Saturday with a gathering at a library in Boulder.
Veronica Carpio, an Erie woman who owns Colorado Hemp Coffee, said the celebration would include hemp seeds and plants for sale.
“We’re laying a new foundation for a new industry,” Carpio told the Daily Camera newspaper.