Hemp industry poised to grow in Colorado with new legal status

By Steve Raabe
The Denver Post

Lynda Parker, from left, of Agricultural Hemp Initiative, James McVaney, director of McVaney & Associates Ltd., and Erik Hunter, engineer of Hemp Cleans, visit CannLabs in Denver and view a hemp plant. Proponents of hemp say it is going to become a big industry.(Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post)
Passage of Amendment 64 has given life to a group of zealous enthusiasts who can barely contain their passion for the leafy green substance.
No, not pot. The fanatics get their kicks from buzz-free hemp.
A genetic cousin to marijuana, hemp is a look-alike plant with one key difference. It contains almost no THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that makes users high.
But what hemp lacks in THC, it makes up for by being a remarkable workhorse of industrial utility. From auto bodies to textile fibers to nutrition bars — even as a cleaner of toxic contamination — hemp struts its stuff.
Boosters say hemp is poised to become a big industry in Colorado because Amendment 64 allows its legal cultivation pending legislative authorization.
Lynda Parker’s eyes light up, the all-natural way, when she talks about it.
“My friends tell me I’m too evangelical,” says the retired Dex saleswoman. “But there’s hardly a problem in the world that can’t be solved with hemp.”
She ticks off an abbreviated list, just a tantalizing hint, of the practical applications.
“Hemp is food, animal feed, fiber, fuel, shelter,” she says. “It cleans the air, the water, the soil. Hemp could be enormous for Colorado because we’re the first state to legalize it.”
Hemp’s most common uses are food products derived from seeds and seed oil. Fiber from the stalks of hemp plants are used in clothing and industrial applications, including as a strengthening agent in concrete.
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