Hemp is an agricultural crop that is widely cultivated across the globe for its seed and fiber, which are used in paper, textiles, construction materials, fuel, and dietary supplements. If voters approve Amendment 64 in November, it could make Colorado our nation's sole domestic source for industrial hemp and unlock its potential to bolster the state’s economy.
Cultivation of industrial hemp never should have been outlawed.
- Hemp is genetically similar to marijuana, but it contains less than 0.3% of the psychoactive chemical in marijuana, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is illegal to produce in the U.S. because our current laws do not distinguish between the two. Amendment 64 creates separate definitions for marijuana and industrial hemp.
- The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that prohibits the commercial production of hemp, and more hemp is exported to the U.S. than to any other country.
Colorado has the opportunity to create a legal and regulated hemp industry.
- Amendment 64 not only regulates marijuana like alcohol, but also directs the general assembly to regulate the cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp.
- Colorado, like much of the U.S., has climate and soil conditions ideally suited to grow industrial hemp, and it was widely grown here for centuries.
A new hemp industry would strengthen Colorado’s economy.
- The overall U.S. market for industrial hemp fiber and seed products is $400 million annually. Currently, zero percent of that money is going to American farmers, processors, or their families. Meanwhile, it is widely produced in Canada, China, and countries throughout Europe, among others.
- Allowing the legal cultivation and processing of industrial hemp would provide the state with an infusion of new jobs and tax revenue in the near-term. It would also make it a leader in the development of a major new industry that will surely expand in coming years.
Hemp is a sustainable and environmentally-friendly agricultural crop.
- Hemp can be grown entirely organically, requiring no pesticides or herbicides, and it absorbs CO2 five times more efficiently than natural forests.
- The Colorado State legislature recently passed a bill to explore industrial hemp’s potential for phytoremediation, a process by which plants filter and clean contaminated soil. Hemp was used in this way following the Chernobyl nuclear accident to make surrounding areas safe for agriculture again.
Industrial hemp is used in the production of:
- Hemp can be processed into ethanol and biofuels. Development of biofuels could significantly reduce consumption of fossil fuels and nuclear power.
- Hemp fiber is longer, stronger, and more absorbent than cotton fiber. Because hemp has hollow fibers and cotton does not, hemp clothing is also better at regulating body temperature.
- Hemp can be woven into a variety of textiles, rope, and netting. It can be blended with other construction materials to create insulating products, such as concrete building blocks, fiberboard, and carpeting. Hemp fiber is frequently used to make fiberglass composite panels for automobiles. For example, the Mercedes C-Class contains up to 20 kg of hemp in each car.
Paper and Plastic
- Hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber on a sustainable basis, and it can be used for every quality of paper. Hemp paper can also be recycled more times than wood-based paper.
- Hemp paper manufacturing can reduce wastewater contamination, and its low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping. Hemp’s creamy color also lends to environmentally-friendly bleaching instead of harsh chlorine compounds. Less bleaching results in less dioxin and fewer chemical by-products.
- Hemp can replace most toxic petrochemical products. Research is being done into the use of hemp in manufacturing biodegradable plastic products.
- Hemp seed is high in dietary fiber, an excellent source of B-vitamins, and one of the world’s richest sources of Omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids. It also contains all eight essential amino acids and is second only to soybeans as a complete protein (although it is more digestible by humans than soybeans).
- Including hemp seed in your diet can help regulate cardiac function, insulin balance, mood stability, and skin and joint health.
Hemp was considered an invaluable crop by our nation's leaders.
- As early as the 1600s, colonial law required all settlers to grow hemp.
- Benjamin Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper, and many of the Founding Fathers strongly advocated industrial hemp production. Thomas Jefferson once wrote: "Hemp is of the first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country." George Washington echoed his enthusiasm, urging early settlers to "[m]ake the most of the Indian hemp seed, and sow it everywhere!"
- During World War II, the federal government subsidized hemp agriculture, and it encouraged hemp production in a short film titled, “Hemp for Victory.”