The rule lets Colorado hemp producers register to grow the crop 30 days before planting, allowing registration at any time of the year while eliminating the May 1 registration deadline.
The report producers must file with the state before harvest will help the agriculture department test the crop to ensure lower levels of tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
The hemp industry had lobbied for Senate Bill 184, which resulted in the emergency rule, said Morris Beagle, a hemp advocate and owner of Colorado Hemp Co. in Loveland. Sen. Gail Schwartz, D-Snowmass, and Rep. Don Coram, R-Montrose, introduced the bill, signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper last month.
“This is one of those small, little victories,” Beagle said.
The ag department has approved 1,543 acres of hemp planting. Of that total, 1,309 acres can be grown commercially and 234 acres for research and development. People in Boulder, Larimer and Weld counties have applied to grow a large portion of hemp in the state.
Hemp, which is used in textiles, biofuel, paper and other products, is the only crop in Colorado for which producers must apply to grow.
Deputy Commissioner Ron Carleton explained the state wants to closely regulate hemp because it remains illegal under federal law, though federal officials have agreed to relax enforcement for states that have legalized hemp growth.
“We do have to treat it a bit differently,” he said. Federal officials “reiterated how important it was to have a very strict regulatory structure in place.”
For more information, visit www.colorado.gov/ag/dpi and click “industrial hemp.”