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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandFebruary 20, 20183min334
Global agriculture, both the focus of the TransPacific Partnership and a significant factor in the ongoing negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement, will be the focus Wednesday when agriculture leaders from around the state gather in Denver. The 27th annual Governor’s Forum on Agriculture will lead off with a discussion of how American […]

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Joey BunchJoey BunchJanuary 18, 20184min848

In the week the pot pastor entered politics in Weld County, why not hop in the “Cannabis Car” for sing-along and a ride-along?

An Atlanta-based band people way cooler than me listen to, Aviva and the Flying Penguins, has a song Colorado should hear. It’s one of the most popular tracks on the band’s CD “Painted Truth,” Aviva Vuvuzela tells me.

Besides a catchy tune, it brings attention to hemp, a product of increasing prominence in Colorado.

Aviva is a cannabis activist (though she flirted with campaigning to change Columbus Day to Pocahontas Day in Atlanta . — think about it, Rep. Joe Salazar). She learned Henry Ford — this is actually true — created a prototype by cooking up hemp fibers in 1941, and he envisioned a fuel made of hemp, as well.

Seriously.

Ford’s recipe for the plant-based plastic included wheat straw and sisel, as well, but when World War II broke out, the project lost its momentum.

A couple years ago Aviva contacted by Bruce Dietzen, who built himself a cannabis sports car by following Ford’s lead. Dietzen, president of Renew Sports Cars, lives in Miami.

“I have been gigging in Colorado for a couple of years,” Aviva said in an email exchange.

You might have caught her and the Flying Penguins, “fine young chaps,” she said, at Bushwackers Saloon and High Times in Denver, or in Fort Collins at the Noco Hemp Fest and Avogadro’s Number.

“Now, as you know, hemp is growing all over the USA, but it’s not happening quick enough,” Aviva said.

People in Colorado know that’s no lie.

The legislature has passed a handful of bills to normalize hemp for all kinds uses, as well as incentives to invest in hemp industries. State Sen. Don Coram, R-Montrose, opened a hemp processing plant next on the Western Slope, and state Rep. Kimmi Lewis, R-Kim, told a town hall crowd last summer that her son is grows a patch of the non-intoxicating plant related to marijuana.

In December, the Colorado Department of Agriculture put a stamp of approval on four kinds of hemp seeds for industrial purposes. And last march the legislature also instructed the ag department to study the potential of hemp as livestock feed.

But getting back in tune here, if “Cannabis Car” isn’t your new favorite song, then “Colorado in July” could be. Sing another one for us, Aviva.


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Marianne GoodlandMarianne GoodlandJanuary 14, 20183min888

Here are the legislative committee hearings of note for the week ahead in the Colorado Capitol. Committee schedules are subject to change. The daily schedule is available on the legislature’s website.

Monday

The General Assembly is closed on Monday, Jan. 15 for observance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day; many lawmakers will be participating in the Denver Marade, which begins at Denver’s City Park at 10:45 a.m.

Tuesday

House Finance, 8 a.m. LSB-A

Senate Bill 18-027; allowing nurses to travel in and out of state, background here. This is likely to be the first bill signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper in 2018.

Wednesday

Senate Health & Human Services Committee Upon Adjournment SCR 354

Senate Bill 18-020 to allow registered psychotherapists to perform auricular acudetox, a form of acupuncture used for detox.

Senate Bill 18-050, to allow staff of free-standing emergency rooms to participate in the state’s safe haven law, which allows them to take temporary custody of infants 72 hours old or younger from parent(s).

Thursday

Joint Health and Human Services, 1:30 p.m. Room 271

Presentation on waiting lists for services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
Public testimony on waiting lists for services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.

Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee, 1:30 p.m. SCR 357

Senate Bill 18-038 to allow the use of reclaimed domestic wastewater to irrigate industrial hemp.


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Joey BunchJoey BunchOctober 12, 20174min1024
If you want to be an investor in hemp, here’s your chance, courtesy of the legislature and a legislator. Friday afternoon Sen. Don Coram, a Republican from Montrose, and representatives of the state Department of Agriculture will unveil a crowdfunding campaign for a start-up hemp production company called Paradox Ventures. Coram is a founder and […]

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Dan NjegomirDan NjegomirMay 25, 20175min502

Legislation intended to keep federal water flowing to Colorado’s hemp crop — a growing industry in the state, if you’ll forgive the expression — has unexpectedly led to an anonymous accusation that the bill’s sponsor has a conflict of interest. So says a report in the Durango Herald.

Spoiler alert: The law seems to be on the sponsor’s side, as the Herald reports.

Senate Bill 117, adopted by lawmakers in the 2017 session and now awaiting the governor’s signature, was supposed to quell controversy, not cause it. As explained in a press release by the state Senate Republican majority when the bill was approved by the legislature last month, industrial hemp is misunderstood because of its association with marijuana, and that has led to bad policy by the federal government:

After Colorado voters approved hemp’s cultivation as part of a broader legalization of marijuana, questions arose about the legality of using federal reclamation water to grow a  crop often wrongly confused with marijuana.

Montrose Republican state Sen. Don Coram, who introduced the measure, said in the press release that the bill “ensures that Washington can’t deny hemp growers access to water from federal reclamation projects, due to disagreements between Washington and Denver on drug and farm policies.”

Now, the Herald’s Luke Perkins reports Coram is getting called out because he is “affiliated with an industrial hemp production and processing company, Paradox Venture, and could stand to gain from the legislation.” The allegation showed up in the Herald’s mail box in an unsigned letter.

The letter’s author may have it wrong, as Perkins points out:

Coram said he is a founder of Paradox Ventures, a hemp production start-up based in Naturita but doesn’t believe there is a conflict of interest, as the bill does not single out this company or Montrose County.

His position appears to be backed up by a state statute and legislative rules that exempt legislation affecting an entire “class,” in this case industrial hemp growers, from being considered an ethical conflict.

SB 117 affects the whole state and was a response to water rights being withheld from a hemp farmer on the Front Range.

Colorado Ethics Watch Director Luis Toro offered backup today via Twitter:

Be sure to read Perkins’s full report for more background.

And just in case you had lingering doubts, industrial hemp is not about getting high. It’s used in wide-ranging products; here’s a brief primer courtesy of Wikipedia:

(I)ndustrial hempis a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that…can be refined into a variety of commercial items including paper, textiles, clothing, biodegradable plastics, paint, insulation, biofuel, food, and animal feed.

Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp are both members of the species Cannabis sativa and contain the psychoactive component tetrahydrocannabinol… (h)emp has lower concentrations of THC and higher concentrations of cannabidiol (CBD), which decreases or eliminates its psychoactive effects.