Legislation (SB 67) that would allow Colorado to become the first state to legalize the growing of industrial hemp was approved by the full Senate by a 18-15 vote.
The move surprised many who felt that the controversial legislation would likely fall three or five votes shy of a majority. “I feel like I’ve been through a wringer, but I’m very happy,” said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Lloyd Casey (D-Northglenn), in an interview with the Rocky Mountain News. A similar bill was introduced by Casey in 1995, but only received one vote of support in its first committee.
The Colorado Industrial Hemp Production Act permits the planting of no more than 40 acres of industrial hemp (defined by the bill as marijuana containing no more than 0.5% THC) in Colorado in 1996 for agricultural, commercial, and scientific research. The legislation allows for full scale hemp production to begin in 1998 and has been endorsed by the Colorado Farm Bureau, the Colorado State Grange, and the National Federation of Farm Bureaus. The bill has also received support from Hollywood actor and hemp businessman Woody Harrelson.
The bill now moves to the more conservative House where Reps. Steve Acquafresca (R-Cedaredge) and Bill Jerke (R-Lasalle) have agreed to help carry the legislation.
Often described as “marijuana’s misunderstood cousin,” industrial hemp is from the same species that produces marijuana. Unlike marijuana, however, industrial hemp has only minute amounts of delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient that gives marijuana its medical and euphoric properties. Industrial hemp is currently grown legally through much of Europe, Asia, and parts of Canada to produce a variety of products such as textiles, paper, composites, paints, cosmetics, and animal feed.
For more information on this bill, please contact the office of Senator Lloyd Casey at (303) 866-4865 or the Colorado Hemp Initiative Project at (303) 784-5632. For more information on the value of industrial hemp, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of NORML at (202) 483-5500.