Colorado House bill allowing study of hemp’s soil-cleaning potential has panel’s backing

By John Ingold
The Denver Post

 

A bill to study the benefits of growing industrial hemp cleared its first hurdle in the state legislature Monday.

The bill, from state Rep. Wes McKinley, D-Cokedale, received unanimous support in the House Local Government Committee despite questions about whether it would create a showdown with the federal government, which considers it illegal to grow hemp. The study, which would be funded with private money, would look at whether industrial hemp is effective at sucking pollutants from the soil, as some research suggests it might be.

“We simply don’t have the data,” said Erik Hunter, a Ph.D. candidate at the Colorado School of Mines who studies using plants to clean soils — a process known as phytoremediation. “We would be creating a new body of data.”

Hunter noted that hemp was planted at the Chernobyl nuclear-disaster site in the hopes of cleaning radiation from the ground. On that premise — and on the potential for other uses of hemp for food, textiles and fuel — lawmakers were intrigued.

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