Senate’s Nod To The Hemp Industry Not Enough To Help All States

It's officially Hemp History Week. The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a resolution that recognizes the “full growth potential of the industrial hemp industry.” But at the state level, real progress for the hemp industry is still all over the map.

Thirty-five states, including Utah, Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado allow for some level of commercial or research-focused hemp cultivation.

Colorado’s program is focused on promoting the crop for things like fiber, food, medicine, and even technology. Duane Sinning is the program's director at the Colorado Department of Agriculture.  He said they started in 2014 with 1,800 acres of hemp and now they have over 21,000 acres registered.

Meanwhile, other Mountain West states are playing catch-up.  Derek Grant is with the Wyoming Department of Agriculture. His state legalized hemp last year. But he said the program is at a standstill because of federal requirements.

“We just don’t have the funding available,” said Grant, “to ensure that producers are producing hemp plants that are under the THC levels.”

For now, even where hemp is legal, it must remain under .3 percent THC – the psychoactive component prominent in marijuana.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, Yellowstone Public Radio in Montana, KUER in Salt Lake City and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.