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New Colorado pot measure gives hemp the green light

By Angela Norwood     Jan 28, 2013 in Politics
Denver - On Election Day, Colorado voted to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. Also legalized was hemp, a material which may benefit the farm industry.
Recreational use of cannabis is now legal for adults in Colorado, prompting marijuana shops to open in populous cities like Boulder and Denver. However, pot shop owners aren't the only ones who could find themselves "in the green." Farmers may also benefit as well — because when marijuana was legalized so was hemp.
There are some differences between marijuana and hemp. Marijuana is grown for its mind and body-altering effects, with the flower of the female plant being harvested for use. Hemp, on other hand, is grown for a myriad of uses including food, fuel, fiber and much more. Hemp can be used to make rope, paper, clothing, soap, toiletries and more. The concentration of THC (the component in marijuana that produces the "high" is minuscule in hemp.)
Farmer Michael Bowman believes some people are confused as to the difference. "When they hear that we're growing hemp, they think we're growing marijuana," Bowman said of his neighbors.
His goal is to rehabilitate the farming of hemp, and he'll be planting 100 acres on his 3,000-acre farm this spring.
"We think 100 acres is a good number," he says. "It's not a garden plot, and it's enough to have enough product at the end of the day that we can do something real with it."
Bowman plans to turn his first crop of hemp into an edible oil.
Although both marijuana and hemp are legal in Colorado, they are still prohibited under Federal law. The Department of Justice is reviewing the legalization initiatives of Colorado and Washington. Currently, the United States is the only industrialized nation prohibiting hemp.
During World War II, the "Hemp for Victory" campaign was launched by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This was an attempt to replace fiber sources from Southeast Asia cut off by Japan. However since then, no commercial hemp has been grown in the U.S. since the 1950s.
In addition to Bowman, other residents are excited about the legalization of hemp farming.
"My friends tell me I'm too evangelical," says retired saleswoman Lynda Parker. "But there's hardly a problem in the world that can't be solved with hemp."
"Hemp is food, animal feed, fiber, fuel, shelter," she said. "It cleans the air, the water, the soil. Hemp could be enormous for Colorado because we're the first state to legalize it."
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