Hemp

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An oil made from hemp flower called cannabidiol, or CBD for short, contains almost no THC and is currently used to treat epilepsy in children. The drug epidiolex was approved by the Federal Drug Administration in 2018.

Now a pilot study conducted at Colorado State University, suggests CBD may do the same for dogs suffering from seizures.

Esther Honig / KUNC

Last December, hemp farmers and businesses celebrated. After 82 years of heavy restrictions, Congress passed the 2018 farm bill, stating hemp should be treated more like a crop and not like its cousin plant marijuana.  

That excitement carried over into the 6th Annual NoCo Hemp Expo, a Colorado convention for the hemp industry. A record 10,000 people attended, nearly double last year’s turnout. But as investors and entrepreneurs clamored to get inside the convention center, they may have been disheartened to learn the industry is still burdened by uncertainty and legal risks.     

Hemp
Marc Fuyà / CC BY-SA 2.0

Federal legalization of hemp arrived in the U.S. late last year and expanded an industry already booming because of the skyrocketing popularity of CBDs, a compound in hemp that many see as a health aid.

But now, just a few months after Congress placed the marijuana look-alike squarely in safe legal territory, the hemp industry has been unsettled by an unexpected development.

The Idaho House of Representatives passed a bill Monday to legalize hemp in the state. 

When President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill it became legal to produce hemp in the U.S. But  it’s a little more complicated than that.

CERIA labels
Matt Bloom / KUNC

Inside a Denver bottling plant, Keith Villa watches as rows and rows of 10-ounce silver bottles whisk by, all filled with a golden-colored Belgian-style ale called Grainwave.

It looks and tastes like beer. But instead of alcohol, there's 5 milligrams of THC mixed inside. That's the psychoactive compound in marijuana that gets you high.

Esther Honig / KUNC

A computer science major in college, 25-year-old Garrett Hause would fit in at a Silicon Valley startup. But he said he prefers to stay busy and work with his hands, so he decided to do something different.

Last year he took over his grandparents’ farm in Lafayette, Colorado and replaced the fields of alfalfa with five acres of hemp.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may seem like an unlikely champion for an illegal substance, but the Kentucky Republican just added the legalization of marijuana’s non-psychoactive cousin, hemp, to the Senate farm bill. The industrial hemp business is increasingly seen as an economic savior and substitute for vulnerable industries like mining, especially in Colorado, one of the first states in the nation to make hemp legal at the state level.

It's officially Hemp History Week. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution that recognizes the “full growth potential of the industrial hemp industry.” But at the state level, real progress for the hemp industry is still all over the map.

Esther Honig

At his booth for the 5th annual NoCo Hemp Exposition in Loveland, Colorado, Scott Leshman, founder of Cannabinoid Creations, pours samples of his signature soda flavor, Cartoon Cereal Crunch. It’s an ode to the popular breakfast cereal, Cap'n Crunch CrunchBerries, with a twist: It contains cannabidiol, also known as CBD oil.  

Luke Runyon / KUNC/Harvest Public Media

Colorado agriculture officials are taking steps to make industrial hemp -- marijuana’s agrarian cousin  -- more mainstream. They’ve certified three hemp seed varieties, becoming the first state in the country to do so.

A seed certification is akin to a stamp of approval, letting farmers know the plant performs well in Colorado’s soil and climate.

The certification also ensures that farmers won’t break federal law by cultivating plants above the legal threshold for THC, the psychoactive compound found in cannabis. Hemp that tests above a concentration of 0.3 percent THC must be destroyed, according to state rules. That threshold was set in the 2014 Farm Bill.

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