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Colorado Hemp Bill Dies


March 1995

On Feb. 16, the Colorado Senate Agriculture Committee killed a bill that would have allowed farmers to grow hemp.

Senate Bill 132, the Hemp Reclassification Act, was sponsored by Senator Lloyd Casey (D-Northglenn). The bill would have allowed the production of hemp with concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinols (THC) below 1.4%.

Farmers would have been required to purchase a license and submit to testing of at least 1% of their total crop. If the THC content of the plants would have risen above 1%, then inspectors would have been required to destroy the plants. If two tests in one year showed plants to be above 1% in THC content, then the grower would lose his/her license. Should the THC content of the grower's crop have risen above 1.4%, then inspectors would have been required to report the grower to the district attorney.

Hemp regulation and collection of license fees would have been handled by the state commissioner of agriculture.

" ... The development and use of hemp is in the best interests of the state economy and ... the production of hemp and hemp products can be regulated so as not to interfere with the strict control of controlled substances in the state," the bill reads.

The bill also would have required that handlers of hemp, or those who manufacture products from the raw hemp crop, be subject to inspections of their places of business and would be required to purchase a handler's license.

The bill died by a vote of 6-1 in the Agriculture Committee. The Committee, citing the possible legal ramifications of regulating hemp, even refused to commission a study of hemp after receiving a letter from Special Agent Philip W. Perry of the Drug Enforcement Administration ("No Hope for Hemp," Denver Post, Feb. 17, 1995, p. 7B).

"As you are no doubt aware, in cases where Federal and state law are in opposition, the question of which law would control is well settled," Perry wrote to the Committee. "In view of these facts, passage of the 'Hemp Reclassification' Bill would have the effect of leading otherwise law abiding farmers down the road to the commission of a federal felony, under the color of a seriously misguided state statute. ... The federal criminal law on this subject does not provide such protection [as is stated in the bill] and will be enforced with all the vigor at the DEA's command." [Unfortunately, Perry's letter contained misstatements of law. -EES]

[NewsBriefs has copies of the Hemp Reclassification Act, Perry's letter, and other testimony before the Agriculture Committee. Contact the NewsBriefs office if you would like a copy.]