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Hemp: First harvest in more than fifty years begins in southeastern Colorado

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Ryan Loflin.
America's first (known) hemp harvest in more than fifty years began this month in southeastern Colorado. This past spring, following last year's passage of Amendment 64, which legalized small amounts of marijuana for adults and paved the way for industrial hemp production, farmer Ryan Loflin planted 55 acres of marijuana's sober sister. Last week, hemp advocates from across the country came to watch as Loflin and others harvested the first plants by hand.

"It felt very historic," says advocate Lynda Parker.

See also: Free joint giveaway on Boulder's Pearl Street Mall

"We think that, obviously, this is a symbolic first hemp harvest," says Eric Steenstra, the executive director of the Hemp Industries Association.

With the U.S. Department of Justice recently indicating that it won't sue to stop states' marijuana policies, Steenstra predicts farmers in other states will soon follow Loflin's lead. Steenstra is among those who believe the DOJ's pot policy extends to hemp; although hemp contains little to none of the THC found in marijuana, the federal government doesn't distinguish between the two and considers both to be illegal.

"Our eventual hope is to see the full commercialization of hemp," he says.

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Hemp Industries Association
Loflin harvests his hemp plants.
Loflin has only been able to harvest about a quarter-acre of his plot so far. He was planning to use a combine to harvest the bulk of it, but when he tested that method, he found that the combine destroyed part of the plant in the process. So now he plans to hand-harvest the entire field. That way, he says, he'll even be able to save the roots.

"We're going to try and save the entire plant and do as much as we can," Loflin says.

Since hemp was illegal for so long, there's very little seed available, making the seeds produced by Loflin's plants quite valuable. "We'll save a lot of the seed and replant it next year," says Loflin, who also plans to make a small amount of hemp seed oil.

Loflin says he isn't worried about law enforcement, especially in the wake of the Department of Justice's announcement. "It's time for this to happen," he says.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture is currently working on rules for registering hemp farmers with the aim of having them in place by early 2014. Back in May, the department issued a statement clarifying that it's not okay to plant hemp in Colorado until that registration process in in place -- a distinction that didn't stop Loflin.

The night before the September 23 ceremonial harvest, Loflin hosted a dinner at his farm, complete with hemp food. It was attended by Colorado hemp advocates, as well as national advocates from Vote Hemp, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps and the Hemp Industries Association. See photos below from the dinner and of advocates in Loflin's field.

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Hemp Industries Association
Advocates enjoy a hempy dinner before the harvest.

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Hemp Industries Association
Ryan Fletcher, communications director for HIA; Eric Lineback, board member of Vote Hemp; Patrick Goggin, board member of Vote Hemp; Eric Steenstra, executive director of HIA; Christina Volgyesi, marketing director for Dr. Bronner's; David Bronner, president of Dr. Bronner's; Ben Droz, Vote Hemp congressional liaison.

More from our Follow That Story archive: "Top ten hemp legends: Which myths are true -- and which went up in smoke?"


Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com


My Voice Nation Help
46 comments
McShyster
McShyster

Why does Westweed LIE! and falsely claim this was a legal hemp crop?

Typical lying stoners.


MikeParent
MikeParent

 And the sky didn't fall?  What are the prohibitionists going to do?  Kudos to all those involved in this historic endeavor.


MikeParent
MikeParent

And the sky didn't fall?  What are the prohibitionists going to do?  Kudos to all those involved in this historic endeavor.


Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

By the way, high-CBD / low-THC plants potentially qualify as hemp. :-)

Garrett Krahn
Garrett Krahn

^ How efficient is the Canadian method of growing/harvesting, compared to the French? :)

the420rev
the420rev

Dont forget greenfaith Ministry and Hemp services here in Colorado, for all your hemp seed cleaning and separating needs! 303-886-7998 or 307-221-2180

nightmajk
nightmajk

I'm very happy to see hemp being harvested again in the U.S., and am especially proud that it's happening right here in Colorado!

I'm surprised that the article made no mention of Jason Lauve, who lobbied locally and nationally, and worked tirelessly on the legislative rider to Amendment 64 that allowed this hemp farm to exist in the first place? I don't see him in any of the photos, either.

Was he not part of this hemp farm? Is any of the hemp from this harvest going to help build Team Hemp House?

Lannette Johnson

Denver Moms for Marijuana

Mike Stanley
Mike Stanley

look, americans can evolve too! so awesome!

Susie Noonan
Susie Noonan

Why go to France? Canada grows tens of thousands of acres.

lesstark
lesstark

Great news! Someday we will join you and have a hemp harvest here in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania! Between the years of 1720-1870 there were over 100 hemp mills for processing hemp fiber in Lancaster County alone and an equal number of oil mills for processing oil from the hemp seed and many more dozens of hemp and oil mills in all of the surrounding counties. By the way, our ancestors harvested the crop by hand. I would LOVE to come out and help but can't afford the trip. If someone offers to pay my way, I'm there!

RobertChase
RobertChase topcommenter

Congratulations!  Before the second Cole memo on cannabis, I feared that this crop might be harvested prematurely by DEA thugs.  May Colorado quickly acquire the infrastructure to turn raw hemp into the multitude of finished goods for which it is suitable.  I would love to buy some hempen jeans made in Colorado (for <<$50, please).

Toby Wollin
Toby Wollin

La Maison -- Then I think it's long past time for US farmers who are interested to make the trip to France (how can it miss?) to learn more about how you grow and harvest it, and what equipment is used, so that when things sort themselves out here, they are more than ready.

La Maison du Chanvre
La Maison du Chanvre

we know how to grow and harvest hemp in Europe, especially in France where we never stopped its cultivation - great news the US are allowing it again!

Toby Wollin
Toby Wollin

As more farmers plant industrial hemp, there will be inventors who will come up with ways to harvest it that will get more of the plant into the system. Great news.

Kevin A. Mahmalji
Kevin A. Mahmalji

If anyone is interested in volunteering for the harvest this weekend hit me up.

Monkey
Monkey

Good for you!! Just keep your pollen away from my girls.

darkangel0382
darkangel0382

@McShysterIf you had read properly, it never said it was a legal crop.  The article states that:

          "Back in May, the department issued a statement clarifying that it's not okay to plant hemp in Colorado until that registration process in in place -- a distinction that didn't stop Loflin."

 So technically, he's still breaking the law...for now.

FUDH
FUDH

@the420rev "and Hemp services"

You just make shit up as you go along, huh?

the420rev
the420rev

@Victor Forsythe not yet, but i do do (LOL) cannabis friendly baptisms, weeddings and passing of life ceremonies, I am very interested!

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@La Maison du Chanvre Thanks for weighing in, La Maison. Much appreciated.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Toby Wollin As the European poster pointed out, hemp has been produced since it was banned in the US, so those methods are probably pretty well-defined.

That said, a few years back, I was watching a History Channel (or one of those) show on threshing machines, and it occurred to me a combine designed to harvest buds and remove most leaf behind would be a wonderful thing to pioneer. 

Ultimately, I think the high-volume production of mind-altering substances from c. sativa will be based on efficiently removing the majority of trichomes from the plant and selling the rest as fibre (along with as much as 40% of the trichomes.) The marginal portion, which could get below 10% with advanced methods, would simply be discarded as too expensive to chase, much like many other processes.

All that said, I think there will always be a place for hand-trimmed bud, but I'd never expect it to get all that cheap, while infused products will probably become very cheap. The future of "smoking," for most people, will probably be something like the BHO pens that are already becoming so popular. I have my concerns about butane, so I'm not in that crowd--and as a patient, I mostly use edibles, though I vape a bit. Of course, you can vape hash, and there should be plenty of that once a good threshing machine exists.

kevin_hunt
kevin_hunt

@Steven M Palmer Many hands makes light work.

adamzenwine
adamzenwine

@Steven M Palmer and yet we hand harvest thousands of acres of grapes, every year, all over the world. 

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Monkey Brilliant! :-)

I suggested some time ago that if the feds had been smart, they would have re-legalized hemp a long time ago for that very reason!

...and yes, I filter my exhaust, so I wouldn't waste a lot of time in that situation trying to grow without filtering the intake.

JDGM
JDGM

@Monkey Filter your air intake correctly and you shouldn't have any issues.

stuka1
stuka1

@Cognitive_Dissident  RE: BHO, Too bad Tamesium extractors are so expensive. That looks like the way to go if you have the money...

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

@adamzenwine Good point, Adam -- but it still sounds like a big job. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Monkey
Monkey

@JDGM  Either you're a genius, or I was joking. Guess which one it was.

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