Hemp tour plans to stop in Cortez
The ancestral Puebloans once roamed the area wearing sandals made from hemp, and area farmers can now grow the same ancient crop.
Hemp was outlawed in the United States nearly 50 years ago, but in late August, the U.S. Justice Department issued a memo stating the federal government would not interfere with state laws regulating cannabis sativa. The measure prompted Industrial Hemp of Colorado (IHC) officials to lobby farmers to once again grow the environmental-friendly crop.
“I am focusing all of my efforts on bringing Colorado’s new economy, the industrial hemp sector, into existence,” said IHC director James McVaney.
To promote and encourage area alfalfa, bean, wheat and hay farmers to consider alternating their fields with hemp, the IHC launches their Farmers Talks tour this weekend. The 10-day tour examines and discusses draft regulations prepared by the Colorado Department of Agriculture on the once-outlawed crops.
“We want interested parties to have a chance to give feedback on the regulations before they are finalized,” said McVaney.
The free talks roll through Cortez Sunday at 2 p.m. at Cliffrose Nursery on U.S. Highway 160.
McVaney, a former community organizer and advocate for disability rights, transportation safety and medical marijuana, is slated to lead the Farmers Talks. In addition to the proposed regulations, the presentations include an overview of the hemp industry and how growers can get in on the ground floor.
After more than a half-century of prohibition, the nation’s first hemp fields were harvested in Colorado this year. IHC hopes more farmers across the state turn to the crop next spring.
Hemp can be used to produce a multitude of products, including nutritional foods, biofuels, clothing fibers and building materials, to name a few.
Genetically similar to marijuana, hemp contains less than 0.3 percent of the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The overall U.S. market for industrial hemp fiber and seed products is $400 million annually