by Suzanne Rouge

Recreational marijuana captured the spotlight of legalization while hemp quietly tagged along. Hemp has long been hidden in the looming shadow of its notorious cannabis cousin. Designated as “bad” by association, people have a knee-jerk reaction to this humble, helpful plant.

The DEA states that cannabis sativa known as hemp and marijuana are two parts of the same plant, the stalk and flowers, but any grower knows there is a vast difference. Industrial hemp has very little THC, (the psychoactive ingredient) topping out between 0.3 percent to1.5 percent, while medical marijuana is cultivated to provide 5 percent to10 percent THC. This average has been steadily rising since first measured in 1978 at 1.37 percent with the average in 2009 being 8.52 percent. The highest THC content ever recorded was 37.20 percent. Hemp and marijuana have become more like cousins bred to meet different needs.

Contrary to popular misunderstanding, marijuana wouldn’t be hidden in a hemp field. The goal of growing cannabis sativa for marijuana is to minimize the size of the plant and increase the THC of the flowers without allowing them to pollinate and go to seed. The objective in growing cannabis sativa as hemp is to encourage height for fibers and pollination in order to produce seed. The two are incompatible.

It is time for the public to recognize two separate agendas for Federal legalization of cannabis and turn attention away from recreational use to the incredible potential of hemp to recreate the world in which we live. Hemp can be used for paper products, plastics, building materials, medicinal purposes, food, fibers and fuels.

The Agricultural Hemp Initiative HB971274 has authorized Colorado State University, in cooperation with the commissioner of agriculture, to grow test plots of industrial hemp, sunn hemp, and kenaf for use as alternative fiber crops. CSU is hesitating, in lieu of awaiting the passage of the Farm Bill so as not to jeopardize financial backing or receive sanctions from the Federal Government.

Veronica Carpio isn’t waiting. Carpio was the first to receive a hemp seed labeler registration. All farmers interested in planting hemp in Colorado this year must be registered with the state by March 1, 2014. The annual registration fee for commercial production of hemp is $200, plus $1 per acre. The annual registration fee for research and development will be $100 plus $5 an acre. Farmers must also bear the cost of random inspections to ensure that the hemp has lower than 0.3 percent THC content.

Courageous bioneers are bringing the movement into reality. Alternative fiber crops can help revitalize Colorado’s farm economy by spawning the development of new value-added industries in rural areas. There are currently 55,000 patented hemp-based products in nine different categories of industry. EnviroTextiles, out of Glenwood Springs, has been a leading importer of hemp for decades. Its owner, Barbara Filipone has a vision of creating an expanded mill to make hemp socks, a factory to process thousands of acres of hemp to produce hemp oil and a manufacturing facility to create building materials. One hundred seventy new jobs will be created when her dream becomes a reality. You can play a part in Colorado’s success by educating others and supporting locally grown hemp products.

_Suzanne Rouge, BSE, offers: reflexology, aromatherapy, IonCleanse detoxing, Moon Circle events, workshops, ceremonies, presence practice, Ilahinoor energy work, medicine wheel readings, house clearings, Spirit Stone Sculptures and murals. She can be reached at: www.hummingbirdhorizons.com 970-308-1415