Colorado: Hemp study pushed by lawmakers could aide toxic cleanup

By Debi Brazzale, Colorado News Agency

There is a truth that must be heard! Denver, Colo. — Planting fields of hemp to absorb toxins in contaminated soil is a concept worth looking at, said two rural lawmakers at the Capitol.

Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Walsh, and Rep. Jerry Sonnenberg, D-Sterling, are having a bill drafted that would create a pilot program, funded by gifts, grants and donations, to research the crop’s potential.

Areas that may benefit, said McKinley, are Rocky Flats, once the site of a nuclear weapons plant, and the Cotter Corporation’s uranium mine near Golden, as well as numerous abandoned mining properties around the state.

The hemp plants, which have been shown to absorb toxins from soil, would also provide benefits to both farmers and consumers, said McKinley.

"It would be nice to clean up these contaminated areas," said McKinley. "Hemp can be a very beneficial crop providing food, fuel and fiber."

Sonnenberg says if the study proves right, the plant could address agricultural problems with contaminated soil, too.

"There are so many possibilities for industrial hemp that it only makes sense to create win-win situations for agriculture," said Sonnenberg.