By Steve Elliott
America's first legal hemp harvest in more than half a century began this month in Colorado.
Amendment 64, approved by voters last November, didn't just legalize small amounts of marijuana for adults -- it also cleared the way for industrial hemp production. Farmer Ryan Loflin wasted no time; he planted 55 acres of hemp this past spring, reports Melanie Asmar at Westword.
Hemp advocates from across the United States came to watch last week as Loflin and his crew harvested the first plants by hand. "It felt very historic," said advocate Lynda Parker.
"We think that, obviously, this is a symbolic first hemp harvest," said Eric Steenstra, executive director of the Hemp Industries Association (HIA). Steenstra predicted that farmers in other states will soon follow Loflin's lead.
Since the federal government doesn't distinguish between marijuana and hemp -- classifying both as a Schedule I controlled substance -- when the federal Department of Justice recently indicated it wouldn't sue to stop state marijuana legalization, Steenstra said that policy should apply to hemp, as well.
The night before the ceremonial September 23 harvest, Loflin hosted a dinner at his farm, featuring hemp-based foods. It was attended by Colorado hemp advocates, as well as national advocates from the Hemp Industries Association, Vote Hemp, and Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps.