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Will The Federal Government Allow Colorado Hemp Farmers To Thrive?


colorado hempWhile the public’s attention surrounding cannabis legalization measures in Colorado and Washington have focused on recreational marijuana use, changes regarding state industrial hemp laws have gone relatively unnoticed.  That may soon change as farmers may take advantage of a sustainable crop that is a part of a growing, billion dollar industry.  Of course, American farmers ability to compete with foreign farmers will depend on the federal government staying out of the way.

From the Rim Country Gazette:

Colorado farmers like Michael Bowman will be planting 100 acres of hemp to be harvested and sold off as not only building material, but a highly nutritious superfood. While marijuana is considerably high in the substance known as THC  (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol), which of course is the compound that produces the ‘high’ effects, it’s also significantly low in what’s known as CDB (cannabidiol). That’s where hemp comes in. Both THC and CDB are known as  cannabinoids, but hemp is particularly high in CDB while lacking in THC.


That is if the federal government doesn’t seize it across the nation. The DEA has its sights set on confiscating all hemp planted and grown in the United States through citing the Controlled Substances Act, which doesn’t differentiate between marijuana and hemp. The agents, which will ignore state law and enforce federal law throughout any state, say that they will be going after farmers who plant non-THC hemp as if they were planting marijuana. After all, they say it doesn’t matter what it actually is.

In the event that Colorado manages to generate acres of hemp without the federal government raiding the super efficient substance that is classified as a dangerous drug, it will provide a serious industry change that may spread to other states and potentially even federal law. In the more likely scenario of federal agents jailing hemp farmers and raiding their ‘drug’ operations, an intellectual and legal resistance will be in order to attempt to alter the ridiculous laws surrounding the cultivation of hemp.

Of course, as NPR recently reported, the federal government may prevent American farmers from creating jobs and generating revenue:

In the eyes of the federal government, growing cannabis is a violation of the Controlled Substances Act. Special Agent Paul Roach of the Drug Enforcement Administration says federal law does not distinguish between hemp and marijuana.

“It really doesn’t matter whether it looks different or it looks the same,” he says. “If it’s the cannabis plant, it’s in the Controlled Substances Act and, therefore, enforceable under federal drug law.”

The Department of Justice says it’s reviewing the legalization initiatives approved in Colorado and in Washington state. For now, the United States is the only industrialized country that bans hemp.

The United State government has a long history with hemp, from our Founding Fathers to the Hemp for Victory campaign during World War II.  Unfortunately, Reefer Madness and Drug War politics have deprived our farmers, and our nation, the opportunity to fully utilize a beneficial and lucrative crop.

Republished with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition


About Author

Anthony Johnson is the director of New Approach Oregon, the PAC responsible for Measure 91, that ended cannabis prohibition for all Oregon adults in 2014. In addition to helping organize the International Cannabis Business Conference & the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference, he also serves as a Board Member of the National Cannabis Coalition, working to legalize cannabis across the country and Show-Me Cannabis Regulation, an organization specifically working to end cannabis prohibition in Missouri. As President of the University of Missouri Law School ACLU Chapter, Anthony co-authored the measures that legalized medical cannabis possession and decriminalized personal possession for all adults within the city limits of Columbia, Missouri, in 2004. Following law school, Anthony practiced criminal defense for two years before working full time in the political field to help improve and protect civil liberties. You can follow Anthony on Twitter and also friend him on Facebook by following the links below as he posts mostly about civil liberties and politics with dashes of sports, music, movies and whatnot.


  1. Stop being so negative brother! The fact that two states have legalized it is proof we’re heading in the right direction! Finally!

  2. Cannabis is the most regulated resource on the planet. It is not a coincidence that cannabis is also the most valuable resource on the planet. Control cannabis and you control the world. The last thing our corporate-controlled government wants to give to the people is self sufficiency. Cannabis is self sufficiency. Cannabis is freedom. Cannabis is liberty. That is why it will never be legal.

  3. Melekalikimaka on

    Very curious to see what happens in Colorado and Washington. The Oglala Sioux living on the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota grow hemp every year for a crash crop and when it’s just about ready to harvest, the feds come in and burn the crop to the ground even though it is in the treaty of 1868 that they have a right to grow food and fiber. They are a nation in poverty and are not allowed to make money or provide for themselves with industrial hemp which is stipulated in the treaty as being separate from “marijuana”. The US Gov’t would rather give the residents money to live in poverty rather than give them a way to lift themselves out besides opening a casino. Are we getting a theme here? Real drug crimes being ignored so that the DEA can burn hemp fields. How much of our tax dollars are wasted on that little endeavor? The DEA has already spent over $3 billion tax dollars this year of 2013, and yes, we are only 30 days in and all I hear about is cannabis busts.

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