Hemp stalks shoot up on research plots in rural Boulder county.
Credit Ben Holmes / Centennial Seeds
An old saying among farmers is that you want your corn to be “knee-high by the Fourth of July.” That adage doesn’t necessarily apply to Colorado’s newest cash crop: industrial hemp. Unsurprisingly, considering the ubiquitous nickname given to hemp’s cousin marijuana, the plant grows like a weed.
A majority of the U.S. House of Representatives passed three amendments to an appropriations bill that could change how the government deals with medical marijuana and industrial hemp in Colorado and other states where the practices are legal.
Canada legalized hemp in 1998 and many companies there are anxiously awaiting cultivation in the U.S. At Centennial Seeds in Colorado, growers have started planting.
Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC and Harvest Public Media
The U.S. market for foods and beauty products that contain hemp is growing, but American manufacturers that use hemp have their hands tied. The crop is still illegal to cultivate, according to federal laws, which means the current American hemp industry, estimated at $500 million per year, runs on foreign hemp.