Amendment X, Industrial Hemp Definition Explained

Amendment X would remove the definition of “industrial hemp” from the Colorado Constitution and, instead, use the definition in federal law or state statute.

Industrial hemp is an agricultural commodity that belongs to the cannabis family that has has a multitude of applications for building material, clothing, food, oil, rope — and potentially, medicine.

Coloradans passed Amendment 64 in 2012 which legalized the recreational use of marijuana and added the definition of industrial hemp to the state's constitution. This required state legislature to create laws on how hemp is cultivated, processed and sold. It also spurred the creation of the Industrial Hemp Regulatory Program in the Colorado Department of Agriculture.

Under current state law this program would automatically be repealed if the federal government were to authorize the U.S. Department of Agriculture to regulate cultivation and research and development of hemp.

At this time Colorado and federal government definitions of industrial hemp closely mirror each other.

Proponents argue that the state of Colorado stands to lose a great deal of revenue if the federal definition changes and Amendment X fails. Colorado's hemp farmers would be at a competitive disadvantage compared to other states because it could take up to three years to adjust hemp grows to federal limits. This could knock the state from its number one position in the hemp industry.

Those who oppose Amendment X believe that the current definition of industrial hemp in the state constitution protects Colorado's hemp farmers who have relied on the constitutional definition to establish their businesses. Removing the definition may cause uncertainty among industrial hemp growers, they say.

The measure would amend the state constitution and, under new rules passed by voters in 2016, needs 55 percent of votes to pass.