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Colorado moves forward with bill to match federal hemp regulations


Denver, Colorado. Nicholas Hartmann for Wikimedia Commons

One more state is coming into line with federal rules laid out by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this week.

Colorado, a state widely hailed for its cutting edge position within the cannabis industry, recently aligned with the USDA by passing Senate Bill 197.


While industrial hemp and its derivative products like CBD oil were legalized in 2018, confusion over federal rules has left states struggling to craft their own parameters.


Gov. Jared Polis signed the bill Wednesday to adopt the USDA rules and implement civil fines against those hemp producers that violate the law, according to reporting from the Colorado Springs Gazette.


Nearly 90,000 acres of farmland and over 16 million square feet of indoor processing space are now dedicated to hemp, hemp oil and CBD production, the Gazette said.


“Colorado’s farmers are growing hemp on tens of thousands of acres across our state,” Rep. Barbara McLachlan, D-Durango, a sponsor of Senate Bill 197 told the Gazette.

“Now that the federal government has finally recognized the agricultural importance of hemp, we’re bringing our state laws into alignment and streamlining regulations for our industrial producers. Colorado has never been afraid to lead the way and set an example for the rest of the country, and our hemp production industry is no different.”


Colorado pardons aim to address race disparities


Coming into line with USDA guidance isn’t the only bill that passed and was signed by Gov. Polis in the last days of the state’s legislative session in June.


Another move Colorado made was to pass H.B. 1424, which is a new plan to provide clemency for all those imprisoned in the state for cannabis offenses.


Colorado legalized recreational marijuana and other products in 2014, and its “green” economy has exploded in the time since, but some say the punitive measurements taken in the time before are a long-running cause of inequality.


High Times magazine and the Denver Post report that the cannabis industry in Colorado is widely dominated by white business owners, and the disproportionate enforcement of marijuana laws against people of color before legalization laid the groundwork for this disparity.


“For decades now, the Black community has been disproportionately criminalized because of marijuana while others have profited,” Bill sponsor Rep. James Coleman told the Denver Post. “We have needed to act on this injustice for decades.”


Sources


[1] https://gazette.com/colorado_politics/new-colorado-hemp-regulations-become-law/article_ba187656-3b62-5690-8db7-6d458337ed00.html

[2] https://www.denverpost.com/2020/06/29/colorado-governor-mass-pardon-marijuana-convictions/

[3] https://hightimes.com/news/colorado-to-start-pardons-for-cannabis-convictions/

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