COLORADO: The newly legal hemp industry is entering its second growing season with some big questions for producers experimenting with marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin.
The federal government has allowed limited imports of hemp seed — in Colorado’s case, this month — for research and development purposes. Companies trying to create a U.S. hemp industry are seeking investors not only for unproven products but for a plant that is still classified under the federal Controlled Substances Act with marijuana and thus cannot be patented.
As a result, it’s too soon to tell whether hemp will become a boon for farmers or stay in mostly boutique products that use imported hemp.
At least 22 states allow hemp cultivation, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, though most are limited to experimental testing, not commercial industry. Officials with the U.S. Department of Agriculture say they’re not sure how many states are growing hemp or how much is being produced.