Hemp: Meet the members of the advisory committee working on farming regulations

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Before Colorado farmers can plant industrial hemp, the state Department of Agriculture must come up with a way to register and inspect their crops. To help establish those regulations, lawmakers authorized the creation of a nine-member advisory committee.

The members of that committee have been chosen, and the group met for the first time in mid-July. Farmer-turned-political-activist Mike Bowman was there and we caught up with him about the group's progress.

Bowman, who is a member, has high hopes for the group, which was assembled by the state lawmakers who sponsored the bill that created it. At the committee's first meeting on July 18, Bowman says the members introduced themselves, explained their interest in the issue and then got down to business.

"We spent the balance of the afternoon going through the particulars of what we were charged to do by the legislature," Bowman says. The result, he says, was a working document outlining what a registration and inspection process might look like.

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Wikipedia/Fenrisulfir
The inside of a hemp stalk.
"We want to have a very streamlined process that's transparent and puts enough boundaries around it that we aren't going to be challenged by the feds as a program lacking in oversight," Bowman says. (Although hemp contains little to none of the psychoactive ingredient THC found in its sister plant, marijuana, the federal government does not distinguish between the two. Both are illegal at the federal level.)

"This shouldn't be onerous," Bowman adds, "but it should be stringent enough that we satisfy the letter of the law. I'm convinced after one day in the room with this group that that is exactly the balance that we will find."

Bowman comes from a family of farmers who currently grow corn, wheat and a rotation of niche crops in the eastern Colorado city of Wray. He became interested in hemp after reading about North Dakota's long-running fight to grow the outlawed crop. In 2006, he connected with other Colorado hemp activists, and he now splits his time between his home state and Washington, D.C., where he advocates for environmental issues.

He's proud that Colorado is on the leading edge of industrial hemp legalization. It started with last year's pot-centric Amendment 64, which also directed the state legislature to "enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp" by July 1, 2014. Lawmakers beat that deadline in May when they approved the bill that created the advisory committee and gave the Department of Agriculture until March 1, 2014 to come up with a process to register hemp farmers.

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Ron Carleton.
The passage of that bill caused much celebration among eager farmers -- and a considerable amount of confusion. Deputy agriculture commissioner Ron Carleton cleared up any misunderstanding with a statement issued in late May:

The legislature, the statement says, "has made it clear that cultivation, for either commercial or research and development purposes, is not authorized unless the prospective grower first registers with the Department. That will not be possible until early 2014 as we do not expect the registration program to be in place before then."

Bowman admits that the committee's deadline is tight, especially since the regulations will be subject to public input before they're finalized. But he's ready to put in the work. "Here we are, making history," he says. "We have a great group working on it."

So who are these history-makers?

Continue to read about the members of the hemp advisory committee.


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16 comments
RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Melanie, I will call the Department of Agriculture tomorrow, but I see no evidence on its website that public notice of the first meeting of this State Public Body was made, and there are no minutes or recording posted there, only the agenda.  You do not mention the issue of public access, but it is an essential one, required by Colorado law.  Just as the meetings of the DOR's Medical Marijuana Working Group and the Marijuana Per Se Working Group (of the Drug Policy Task Force of the Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice), the meetings of the Industrial Hemp Committee are public business; notice of each must be made, minutes must be taken or recordings made, and those must be made available for public review.  See Colorado's Sunshine Law, C.R.S. 24-6-402.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

The commentary is absolutely poisonous -- this is not an appropriate forum to seek the repayment of debts, or to engage in character assassination (despite Donkey's reign of error here).  The Industrial Hemp Committee should write regulations embodying the principle that cannabis intended for any other purpose than deriving medicinal or psychoactive components from it is hemp -- there is no need to limit what strains can be grown or the THC content of plants (if one is instituted, it should not prevent the use of any variety useful for seed or fiber).  Cannabis grown outdoors will naturally produce less THC than unfertilized female plants and farmers processing such cannabis for its THC content would be violating the regulation; as is the case when people violate the Liquor Code (Title 12, Article 47), any penalty should be no more severe than a misdemeanor.  Given this definition of hemp by intended use, there is no reason to inspect fields or obsess about what strains farmers plant, and certainly no need to introduce genetic modifications to hemp to make it fluoresce (as suggested by Rep. Colin Peterson during debate on the Hemp Amendment to the Farm Bill).


P.S.  The Farm Bill as passed by the House, although shorn of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, does provide for the legalization of hemp.

P.P.S.  I would like to credit Agua Das for having emphasized that cannabis' intended use should determine whether or not it is hemp.

HempCanSavethePlanet
HempCanSavethePlanet

Thankfully, SB 13-241 provided for its own repeal and for the Committee to recommend NO regulation was necessary. CRS 35-61-109 states that the hemp regulation article shall be repealed if "the commissioner determines, in consultation with the committee, that industrial hemp, as a commodity in the market, is financially and economically stable, and state regulation of industrial hemp cultivation is no longer necessary."

Pretty progressive, coming from the state legislature. Too bad the stoners  that wrote the A64 recreational marijuana regulations couldn't be this progressive with the laws that they wrote. It's not often a "citizen's" ballot initiative would be more restrictive than what the General Assembly comes up with.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

... Strangle and Destroy it with Excessive, Unnecessary Government REGULATIONS, pretending it's toxic like Plutonium.

Why does it take NINE (9) idiots -- who have ZERO EXPERIENCE growing industrial hemp -- to FUCK THIS UP, when any 1 (one) idiot could accomplish the legislative abortion?

SSDD.


RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

I spoke with David Joeris, Counsel for the Agriculture Department, and he acknowledged that the IHC is a State public body and assured me that minutes for the first meeting will be prepared.  I hope to attend the second myself, and encourage anyone interested in hemp who can to attend.

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

I should have noted that despite the validity of the principle of intended use, the Constitution provides explicitly that industrial hemp is that containing .3% or less of THC and the Department of Agriculture cannot modify that standard, regulations will make reference to that standard for THC content, and that limit is low enough to preclude the use of many varieties of cannabis which may be useful as hemp.  Nonetheless, the principle of intended use suggests that farmers should be responsible for determining this, and that absent evidence of diversion for use of the psychoactive and medicinal fraction, instances of cannabis intended to be grown as hemp exceeding .3% THC should be dealt with administratively, absent punition, and as simply as possible.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@RobertChase "The commentary is absolutely poisonous -- this is not an appropriate forum to seek the repayment of debts,"

Good thing that know-nothing meddling dilettante poseurs like you don't get to determine what is or isn't appropriate commentary for a public forum, eh numbnuts?

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@HempCanSavethePlanet "Too bad the stoners  that wrote the A64 recreational marijuana regulations couldn't be this progressive with the laws that they wrote. It's not often a "citizen's" ballot initiative would be more restrictive than what the General Assembly comes up with."

Stupid Stoners are as Stupid Stoners do !

jamesmcvaney
jamesmcvaney

@jasonlauve

So, Jason, when are you going to repay me the monies I lent you for hemp? Or are you just thinking you going to weasel away from this debt like you are doing with your Cannabis Health News Magazine debts?

samijo_311
samijo_311

Didn't you advocate for several out of state people to be placed on that committee? Funny how.people can support things with one side of their mouth and talk shit out the other when it fits their personal agenda.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@jasonlauve "I am following up with the Westword and an attorney regarding this, as it is a slanderous accusation in a public forum."

It'd be LIBEL, not slander.

jasonlauve
jasonlauve

@HempCanSavethePlanet @jamesmcvaney I am disappointed you both feel that way, (if you are two different people). I am unaware of these troubles you are having and would like to resolve anything amicably. I am seriously concerned that this is a libelous attack, disrupting what we all desire to achieve for Colorado.  I am following up with the Westword and an attorney regarding this, as it is a slanderous accusation in a public forum. If you have unresolved issues with Hemp Cleans, or myself please contact me directly, and send any documents via email. This is a movement that benefits everyone.

HempCanSavethePlanet
HempCanSavethePlanet

@jamesmcvaney Jason Lauve does not have the respect of the hemp community because of the many manipulative and deceitful incidents he has had with many people.

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