By JOHN SCHROYER, Gazette
Amendment 64’s legalization of marijuana drew the nation’s eyes to Colorado on Election Day. In the ensuing media frenzy, another portion of the ballot measure got lost — Colorado will likely legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp.
Tons of industrial hemp is imported into Colorado and other states annually from Canada, China and other countries, and hemp products are manufactured and sold throughout the country. But it remains illegal to grow hemp in the United States under federal law.
Hemp proponents say cultivating the plant would create an industry and could be a boon to the economies of Colorado and the nation.
Hemp has long been a stigmatized plant since it’s linked to marijuana because of its ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol, aka THC, the psychoactive substance in pot.
Industrial hemp contains three-tenths of 1 percent of THC, while marijuana typically contains 10 percent or higher.
Amendment 64 will separate hemp from the definition of “marijuana” in the Colorado state Constitution, and it will require the Legislature to set up regulations for hemp farmers and sellers by July 1, 2014.
The amendment also makes it legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and to grow up to six marijuana plants, and allows for marijuana stores to begin setting up shop in January 2014.