Two Montezuma County farmers will be among some 100 across Colorado to grow close to 1,300 acres of industrial hemp this year.
Last fall, Sharon Stewart organized Hemp Talks/Western Slope to bring area farmers together with other industrial hemp activists. She shared the promising news with a handful of advocates Sunday at the group's monthly meeting.
According to Stewart, a farmer near Mancos and another near Yellow Jacket both filed applications with state agriculture officials to grow research and development plots in 2014. The Mancos farm plans to test a one-acre site, and the Yellow Jacket farm plans a larger five-acre plot.
"It's not a lot, but at least it's something in this area," said Stewart.
After the legalization of industrial hemp in Colorado last year, the greatest hurdle for area farmers has been locating a seed source. Hemp remains classified as a controlled substance under federal law, but Chris Boucher, vice president of U.S. Hemp Oil in California, has provided local farmers with the seed.
"He's not only supplying the seed, but (Boucher) has also agreed to pay for the water at these two research plots," Stewart said.
Betsy Garrison with the Mt. Lookout Grange in Mancos said the organization has historical data that reveals industrial hemp was once a huge agricultural product locally. The 66-member Grange organization was re-formed last summer after years of dormancy.
"The national Grange supports research and development for industrial hemp, but they are really concerned about the THC levels," Harrison said.
THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that is responsible for a user's buzz, is only found in low levels in industrial hemp strains. The state mandates the THC level in hemp be 0.3 percent of less.