Colorado publishes hemp progress report, two years within the making

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In late March, Colorado released its long-awaited Hemp Progress Report, which is part of a twenty-month project aimed at positioning the state as a leader in the hemp industry.

The Colorado Hemp Advancement & Management Plan (CHAMP) initiative was launched in 2019 by the state Department of Agriculture at the behest of Governor Jared Polis after the Farm Bill legalized industrial hemp cultivation at the federal level in late 2018. According to the CDA, Colorado will “use the CHAMP initiative as a blueprint” with calls for implementation of programs such as new rules for laboratory testing, easier access to funding, and more research into more reliable cannabis seeds and genetics.

The CHAMP report will also be part of Colorado’s ongoing talks with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is still waiting for the state to present its plan for statewide hemp regulations.

The Hollamp Glenn, one of six leaders in the CHAMP program and director of CDA’s Inspection and Consumer Services division, was released about a year later than promised and was delayed largely due to COVID-19.

“Priorities within the CDA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the other agency with a predominant role in [CHAMP]I had to focus on the staff and monitor a number of COVID response programs, “says Glenn.” In all honesty, it had to back down. And I think my timing was a little too ambitious. “

Since 2019, the USDA has released several versions of the federal hemp policy interim regulations. The final set was published in January. Colorado is allowed to operate under these federal regulations during the 2021 farming season, but the CDA must file the state’s revised hemp plan by October. The department’s first draft was rejected in 2020; According to Glenn, this rejection prompted additional meetings and further delayed the CHAMP report, which was also intended to advise the CDA on the USDA’s position on hemp.

“CHAMP has two parts,” he explains, “and the larger efforts and recommendations would go beyond the Farm Bill and submit the state plan to the USDA.”

The report highlighted economic stability, genetic breeding, federal collaboration, cross-pollination with marijuana, and THC remediation as issues to monitor for the future hemp industry in Colorado.

Here’s more from the report:

Recovery after a tough 2020

Colorado marijuana sales hit record highs during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the hemp industry lost ground over the same period. According to the CHAMP report, the number of registered hemp farmers in Colorado fell by over 40 percent from late 2019 to July 2020.

A separate market report shows that 48 percent of hemp farmers across the country had leftover stocks, with an average of about 24,795 pounds of surplus hemp biomass per holding.

Colorado publishes hemp progress report, two years in the making

Colorado Department of Agriculture

The CHAMP report says Colorado is “ready to benefit from a mature post-COVID hemp market” but only if the state “supports a supply chain that relies on industrial hemp for use in textiles, polymers and construction inputs” to become sustainable build and fabric materials by easing regulations and attracting more hemp processing companies to the state.

Play well with the government

The CDA, Polis, Colorado hemp growers and companies, trade organizations, and even Colorado lawmakers have been inciting the USDA and DEA with recommendations and criticism of overburdened regulations since 2018. While the CHAMP report indicates that heads of state remain vigilant to loosen the covenant on the rules on hemp testing, THC remediation, and access to finance and insurance for hemp farmers, it also argues that a good game could take Colorado forward.

“While federal compliance is important in setting national standards, Colorado should continue to advocate adequate and sensible federal regulations that allow the industry to evolve while maintaining a level of public safety,” the report said.

Cross pollination with marijuana

Marijuana and hemp are essentially from the same plant and both can be grown outdoors. Industrial hemp, however, is pollinated and bearing seeds, while marijuana and CBD hemp growers do their best to keep their plants seed and male-free so that the buds achieve their maximum potency and flavor. When the two strains grow close together, pollination begins and those high-THC and CBD buds are wasted.

The CHAMP report recommends that the CDA collect data on the location, variety, and uses of hemp farms and their crops and conduct future research on “geography, climate, pollen viability, presence of hemp genetics research facilities, and other factors” to develop standards for the risk of cross-pollination. ”

Seeds and genetics

With such a hard line on THC, genetics means everything in the hemp industry. According to the CHAMP report, hemp farmers in Colorado have experienced a shortage of reliable hemp seeds and prices, and the state should step up research on more stable hemp genetics by expanding the state’s current hemp seed certification program and creating a new hemp breeding program to certify plant clones; The report also encourages more private institutions and universities in Colorado to develop new strains of cannabis.

Sampling and testing

Hemp farmers in Colorado want less restrictive sampling and testing rules than suggested by the USDA, and have criticized DEA’s involvement in THC potency testing as a whole. Although the USDA has increased the post-harvest storage time between lab tests from fifteen to thirty days, the CHAMP report wants to see third party sampling and lab certification to prevent a jam at a handful of federally approved companies in Colorado are.


Traceability

Although industrial hemp is not scrutinized as closely as the marijuana seed sales tracking system, it is loosely monitored by the CDA. The CHAMP report recommends expanding this tracking system to create a chain “that goes from harvest to final product, including documentation of all transactions and transports”. The argument is that further tracking would enable more interstate hemp trade, root out bad actors, and please federal regulators – but like with GPS tracking, not all farmers are okay with the idea.

Hemp competence center

Colorado needs to step up research and development related to hemp to meet some of the goals set out in the CHAMP report, and the state hemp center of excellence is named as the institute to lead the prosecution. The Hemp Competence Center, created by a 2018 bill designed to help guide federally approved research and outreach in the state hemp industry, is likely to have a role in the breeding, seed, cross-pollination and pollination industries THC remediation research, as well as several other areas, play important elements in the growth of the hemp industry.

“The Center of Excellence’s mission will be to serve as a statewide link for Colorado hemp
Industry by promoting collaboration, resource sharing and communication between its regulatory, academic and industrial partners in research and development efforts. In addition, stakeholders suggested that the center also serve as an “educational center” providing technical support and educational resources to hemp farmers, “the CHAMP report reads.” The center should also share industry updates and results of its research activities via a publicly accessible website that may provide links to reviewable resources and regulatory information. “

Some members of the Colorado hemp community have criticized the Polis government and the CDA for how they handled a contract offer to set up the hemp center. The controversy arose out of a CDA selection committee that ultimately selected a marijuana industry group known for its political work on state-legal marijuana rather than industrial hemp. However, the CDA is moving forward and is currently setting up a committee to steer the first five years of the hemp center when it is near construction.

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Thomas Mitchell has been writing about everything cannabis-related for Westword since 2014, covering sports, real estate, and general news en route to publications like the Republic of Arizona, Inman, and Fox Sports. He is currently the cannabis editor for westword.com.

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