Colorado Hits Another Cannabis 1st With Certified Hemp Seeds

Colorado notched another nationwide first Wednesday involving cannabis when state agriculture officials showed off the first certified domestic hemp seeds.

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has been working for years to produce hemp seeds that consistently produce plants low enough in the chemical THC to qualify as hemp and not its intoxicating cousin, marijuana.

The seed certification “is vital to the long-term growth of the industry,” said Duane Sinning of the department that oversees the state’s 400 or so hemp growers.

“A farmer, he already takes a lot of risk dropping a seed into the ground, whether you’ll have enough water, all that,” Sinning said. “This crop is even riskier.”

Hemp production was authorized by Congress in 2014. But farmers who want to grow it must have state certification to raise the crop. The industry estimates that fewer than 7,000 acres of hemp are being grown nationwide this year.

Seed scarcity is cited as a major roadblock to the use of hemp becoming more widespread. Seed prices can start at $25 a pound and go up to more than a dollar for an individual seed.

If the seeds produce plants above 0.3 percent THC, they must be destroyed, leaving the grower with a total loss.

Agricultural researchers are intrigued by hemp’s commercial potential. Beyond health foods, hemp can be used in the production of fiber or pressed into oils used therapeutically. Plus, it is drought hardy.

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