Friday, April 28, 2017
Coram Bill May Clear the Way for Colorado Hemp Boom
Denver -- Industrial hemp may become Colorado's next big cash crop, following Monday's unanimous approval by the Colorado House of Senate Bill-117, authored by Montrose Republican Senator Don Coram, which ensures that Washington can't deny hemp growers access to water from federal reclamation projects, due to disagreements between Washington and Denver on drug and farm policies.
After Colorado voters approved hemp's cultivation as part a broader legalization of marijuana, questions arose about the legality of using federal reclamation water to grow a crop often wrongly confused with marijuana. The issue came to a head when the Bureau of Reclamation stopped an Arkansas Valley farmer from irrigating his hemp fields with water from Pueblo Reservoir, a federal reclamation project, which had a chilling effect on the willingness of some Colorado farmers to grow hemp.
"It was time to end the uncertainty and ambiguity surrounding this question, by recognizing industrial hemp as an agricultural product for which a person with a water right decreed for agricultural use can use the water," Coram said after hearing of the House vote. "We can broaden options for Colorado farmers, and strengthen the state's farm sector overall, by finally putting to rest any doubts about whether growers of industrial hemp can use federal reclamation water on those crops."
It's too early to tell if the measure will fuel a hemp boom across Colorado, but Coram says he'll be satisfied enough if farmers who choose to grow hemp aren't laying awake at night, wondering if federal agents are going to turn off the spigot.