Industrial hemp could be Colorado’s next cash crop. But until rules are crafted for the growing and processing of the plant, state officials are telling would-be hemp farmers to wait. KUNC’s Luke Runyon has more.

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The state’s first hemp crop went into the ground last week in the southeastern town of Springfield, just a few days after state lawmakers passed rules for the sale and taxation of recreational marijuana. What’s not finished is a regulatory framework for industrial hemp. The plant is mostly used for its fiber, in products like clothing and lotions.

Ron Carleton is with the Colorado Department of Agriculture. He says his office phone has been ringing off the hook, with farmers wanting to know how soon they can put hemp in the ground.

“A lot of folks believe that industrial hemp has considerable promise and so they’re interested in when they can start.”

Carleton cautions farmers against jumping into the hemp game too quickly. It’s still illegal at the federal level. That kept Yuma County farmer Michael Bowman from planting hemp this spring.

“The risk of getting caught in this federal web is small, but it’s not nonexistent.”

State officials have until March of next year to come up with rules for governing hemp growers.


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