Colorado releases two-year hemp progress report


At the end of March, Colorado released its much anticipated hemp progress report, as part of a twenty-month project to position the state as a leader in the hemp industry.

The Colorado Hemp Development and Management Plan Initiative (CHAMP) was launched in 2019 by the state Department of Agriculture at the behest of Governor Jared Polis, after the Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of industrial hemp at the federal level in late 2018. According to the CDA, Colorado “will use the CHAMP initiative as a model,” with calls to put implementing programs such as new laboratory testing rules, easier access to financial resources, and more research into more reliable hemp seeds and genetics.

The CHAMP report will also be part of Colorado’s ongoing talks with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is still waiting for the state to submit its statewide hemp regulatory plan.

Released about a year later than promised, the CHAMP report was delayed mainly due to COVID-19, according to Hollis Glenn, one of six leaders of the CHAMP program and director of the Inspection and Consumer Services Division. of ADC.

“The priorities within the CDA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, the other agency having a predominant role in [CHAMP], had to focus on staff and oversee a number of COVID response programs, ”Glenn said. “Frankly, it must have taken a step back. And I think my timing was a little too ambitious. ”

Since 2019, the USDA has released several versions of draft rules for federal hemp policy, with the final set released in January. Colorado will be allowed to operate under these federal rules until the 2021 crop season, but the CDA is due to deliver the state’s revised hemp plan by October. The the ministry’s first project was refused in 2020; According to Glenn, that refusal prompted additional meetings and further delayed the CHAMP report, which was also supposed to advise the CDA on the USDA’s position on hemp.

“CHAMP is made up of two parts,” he explains, “and the larger aspirations and recommendations went beyond the Farm Bill and brought the state plan to the USDA.

The report highlighted economic stability, genetic selection, federal cooperation, cross-pollination with marijuana, and remediation of THC as issues to watch for the future of the Colorado hemp industry.

Here are more excerpts from the report:

Bounce back from a difficult 2020

Colorado’s marijuana sales hit record highs during the COVID-19 pandemic, but the hemp industry has lost ground during the same period. According to the CHAMP report, the number of registered hemp growers in Colorado declined by more than 40% between late 2019 and July 2020.

A separate market report shows that 48% of hemp growers across the country had remaining stocks, with an average of about 24,795 pounds of excess hemp biomass per farm.


Colorado Department of Agriculture

The CHAMP report says Colorado “is poised to benefit” from a fully mature post-COVID hemp market, but only if the state “supports a supply chain that relies on industrial hemp for use. in textiles, polymers and construction inputs “for sustainable construction and fabrics by relaxing regulations and attracting more hemp processing companies to the state.

Play well with the feds

The CDA, Polis, Colorado farmers and hemp companies, trade organizations and even the Colorado legislature have pushed the USDA and DEA with recommendations and criticism of overly heavy regulations since 2018. While the report CHAMP suggests that heads of state remain vigilant in efforts to relax the federal government. rules surrounding hemp testing, THC remediation, and access to finance and insurance for hemp growers, he also argues that playing nice could move Colorado forward.

“While federal compatibility is important in establishing national standards, Colorado should continue to advocate for appropriate and reasonable federal regulations that allow the advancement of the industry, while maintaining a level of public safety,” said the report.

Cross-pollination with marijuana

Marijuana and hemp essentially come from the same plant, and both can be grown outdoors. However, industrial hemp is pollinated and bears seeds, while marijuana and CBD hemp growers do their best to keep their plants free of seeds and male plants so that the buds reach their maximum potency and flavor. If the two strains are grown next to each other, pollination begins and those THC and CBD rich buds are wasted.

The CHAMP report recommends that CDA begin collecting data on the location, variety and intended use of hemp farms and their crops, as well as future research on “geography, climate, pollen viability. , the presence of genetic research facilities on hemp and other factors. to develop cross-pollination risk standards.

Seeds and genetics

With such a limit in THC, genetics mean everything in the hemp industry. According to the CHAMP report, Colorado hemp growers are experiencing shortages of reliable and costly hemp seeds, and the state should step up research into more stable hemp genetics by expanding the current hemp seed certification program from the State and creating a new hemp breeding program to certify plant clones; the report also encourages more private entities and Colorado universities to develop new varieties of hemp.

Sampling and testing

Colorado hemp growers want less restrictive sampling and testing rules than those proposed by the USDA and have criticized the DEA’s involvement in THC potency testing overall. While the USDA ultimately increased the postharvest storage period between lab tests from fifteen to thirty days, the CHAMP report wants to see third-party lab sampling and certification to avoid a blockage in the handle. federally approved businesses in Colorado.


While not as scrutinized as the seed-to-sale marijuana tracking system, industrial hemp is loosely monitored by the CDA. The CHAMP report recommends increasing this tracking system to create a chain “starting at harvest and continuing through to the final product, including documentation for all transactions and transportation”. The argument is that deeper tracking would allow more interstate hemp trade, eliminate bad actors, and appeal to federal regulators – but, as with GPS tracking, not all farmers agree with it. idea.

Hemp Center of Excellence

Colorado needs to increase hemp research and development to meet many of the goals outlined in the CHAMP report, and the state’s Hemp Center of Excellence is designated as the institute to lead the charge. Created by a 2018 bill intended to help lead federally approved research and awareness in the state’s hemp industry, the Hemp Center of Excellence is likely to play a role in research on breeding, seeds, cross-pollination and remediation of THC, as well as several other important elements in the growth of the hemp industry.

“The mission of the Center of Excellence will be to serve as the statewide liaison for Colorado hemp.
industry by promoting collaboration, resource sharing and communication between its regulatory, academic and industrial partners in research development efforts. In addition, stakeholders suggested that the center would also serve as an “educational hub” that will provide technical assistance and educational resources to hemp growers, ”the CHAMP report states. “The center should also share updates on the industry and the results of its research activities. through a publicly accessible website that can provide links to verifiable resources and regulatory information. ”

Some members of the Colorado hemp community have criticized the Polis administration and the CDA for the way they handled a contract offer to create the Hemp Center. The controversy arose when a CDA selection committee ultimately chose a marijuana industry group better known for their political work regarding legal marijuana than industrial hemp. However, CDA is moving forward and is setting up a committee to help lead the first five years of the Hemp Center as it nears construction.


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