Colorado ballot measure to redefine industrial hemp

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The legislation would bring it in line with proposed federal guidelines

The federal government is considering a bill that would legalize industrial hemp and allow farmers to finally harvest crops in the multibillion-dollar marijuana market. Lawmakers in Colorado are keeping a close eye on the progress of the bill because the state’s definition, if the bill is passed, would not be consistent with the federal government’s position. This could, in theory, put hemp farmers in Colorado at an extreme disadvantage.

In order to overcome the discrepancy, three is a ballot measure that will be considered by voters this November. That measure will change the legal definition of industrial hemp as stated in Colorado’s constitution, bringing it closer to what the federal government is planning.

When marijuana was made legal in the state in 2012, hemp was defined as “the plant of the genus cannabis and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed three-tenths percent on a dry weight basis.” This could be replaced by wording that “has the same meaning as it is defined in federal law or as the term is defined in Colorado statute,” according to lawmakers.

The measure is being sponsored by Senator Steve Fenberg, among a few others. He says that it will give Colorado a greater amount of flexibility in order to stay competitive if the federal government approves its new definition. He said back in April, “The change will take the definition out of the constitution and put it into statute. The Feds are likely about to declassify hemp and potentially make the % THC definition higher than what we currently have. If they do that, our farmers would be at a disadvantage.”

While there are no guarantees that the federal government will approve any marijuana bill, the topic has gained significant bipartisan support. With over half the states in the country now offering legalized marijuana in some form, the majority status of marijuana supporters should help to sway future legal decisions.