Registration of CO hemp growers underway

The beginning of March marked another cannabis benchmark for the state. Colorado is the first state to start regulating industrial hemp since the federal government allowed limited, regulated hemp cultivation.

From March 1, 2014 to May 1, registration for hemp cultivation is open to farmers who plan to grow industrial help for the 2014 growing season.

Two types of registration are allowed: growing hemp for industrial purposes or for research and development. Annual registration fees will apply to both areas. Industrial, or commercial, fees are $200 plus $1 per acre, and research and development fees are $100 plus $5 per acre not to exceed 10 acres.

It is unclear how many growers will pursue the new registration.

“It’s such a novel process that it’s hard to predict how many will participate,´ said Ron Carleton, deputy commissioner with the Colorado Department of Agriculture. “In the last few months we’ve had a fair number of expressions of interest from all over the state. What’s unknown is how many of those expressions will translate into actual registration.”

Because hemp is still illegal under federal law, producers will be under strict guidelines to grow only those strains that produce very low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). They must comply with strict guidelines, enforced by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Levels of THC concentration are not to exceed three-tenths of a percent. THC is the psychoactive chemical found in hemp’s cousin, marijuana. The CDA will conduct random field sampling to verify THC content of 0.3 percent or less of crops.

In addition to THC levels, hemp growers may face potential issues with farm loans and crop insurance.

“I think people understand that there are challenges that may pose a few difficulties, particularly in the first year,” Carleton said. “It’s important to see how this will evolve over the next three to five years. Hopefully some of these challenges will lessen or disappear. It’s exciting to get this underway.”

Registrants will need to print the registration form, fill it out, and mail it to the department with the appropriate amount of payment. Those wishing to pay by credit card or cash must hand deliver payment to CDA at 700 Kipling St, Suite 4000, Lakewood, CO, 80215.

The application can be found here.

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