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Colorado Hemp and Marijuana Growers at Odds Over Proposed Cannabis Farming Law

Colorado Hemp and Marijuana Growers at Odds Over Proposed Cannabis Farming Law

Colorado hemp and marijuana growers can't agree on new legislation to help farmers plan for weather

A bill in the Colorado State Legislature attempts to cut outdoor marijuana farmers some slack in the face of bad weather and reduce cross-pollination between marijuana and hemp grows. However, not all of the Colorado hemp industry is on board yet.

House Bill 1301 — a beefed-up version of a similar bill last year that was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic — would allow outdoor cannabis growers to create a contingency plan to prevent crop loss during extreme weather conditions. The measure would create working groups to reduce cross-pollination between marijuana and Colorado hemp plants, as well.

Home to spontaneous weather, Colorado is more than capable of an untimely freeze for outdoor cannabis farms, which only harvest once per year, during the fall. Representative Daneya Esgar, the prime bill sponsor, says that these farmers deserve more protection for such financial impacts.

“This bill was introduced last year in response to outdoor grows having very stringent regulations and losing millions of dollars because of adverse weather,” Esgar told her colleagues on the House Finance Committee during HB 1301’s first successful vote, on May 24. “We’re just bringing it back and making it better than it was.”

The best practices to prevent crop damage from bad weather would be created and enforced by the state Marijuana Enforcement Division, according to Esgar’s bill.

The other outdoor cannabis issue HB 1301 hopes to address — cross-pollination between plants — could be more polarizing among farmers. Although marijuana and hemp are regulated and grown differently, they’re still of the same plant genus and can easily cross pollinate miles away from each other if grown outdoors. Marijuana plants grown for THC content are feminized and don’t have seeds, just like hemp grown for CBD. However, industrial hemp grown for grain and fiber is full of seeds and pollen, which can pollinate seedless cannabis plants, including hemp.

“We’re trying to figure out how we can educate everyone, because there are some unintended consequences of cross-pollination,” Esgar said.

When cross-pollination between marijuana and hemp occurs,  a handful of problems with regulations, including loss of yield and profit, are presented, according to Zack Dorsett, a Colorado hemp farmer for Blue Forest Farms in Longmont.

“It’s so bad,” he says in an interview with Westword. “We had a neighbor one year that grew un-feminized seeds and was spraying pollen all over the place, and the whole crop pretty much got ruined that year.” Hemp can also be harmed in the cross-pollination process, with some Colorado hemp crops testing above the federal THC limit of 0.3 percent after being pollinated by other cannabis plants.

There is pushback against the bill from some hemp industry members, however.

Colorado marijuana regulation bill overwhelmingly passes in House

Colorado marijuana regulation bill overwhelmingly passes in House

A Colorado marijuana regulation bill has been passed in the state house

It would restrict teens’ access to high-THC products and tighten rules for medical marijuana

The Colorado House of Representatives passed the state’s most substantial marijuana regulation policy since legalization on Thursday, intending to crack down on youth access to high-potency THC products and tighten rules for the medical marijuana market.

HB21-1317 passed overwhelmingly, 56-8, and moves on to the state Senate, where it is also expected to pass.

Some of the few House members who did criticize the bill argued data collection would lead to discrimination against consumers, as well as a slippery slope toward a fresh round of prohibitionist lawmaking.

Garnett disagreed, saying on the House floor just before the vote that he supports “making sure we all understand where this market has gone, how this (high-potency) market has expanded. … I just want to make sure that if there is an impact on the dev brain then we have public health research.

“We have waited too long to get to this point.”

Colorado’s legislative session must end no later than June 12, meaning this bill will move to the desk of Gov. Jared Polis in the next two weeks if it passes as expected.

Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Advances To Senate

Louisiana Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Advances To Senate

Louisiana marijuana decriminalization bill has passed the house
A bill to decriminalize marijuana possession in Louisiana that already passed the House was approved in a Senate committee on Tuesday, sending it to the full chamber for final passage.
The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Cedric Glover (D), would make it so possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis would be punishable by a $100 fine without the threat of jail time. It cleared the Senate Judiciary C Committee in a 3-2 vote.

“House Bill 652 it seeks to address a problem that I think many of us have recognized over the years,” Glover said in opening remarks, adding that while opinions on full marijuana legalization vary, there’s widespread acceptance that low-level possession should not lead to incarceration or felony convictions.

If the decriminalization bill is approved on the Senate floor without amendments it will head to the governor’s desk.

This development comes as Louisiana lawmakers consider a number of separate marijuana bills this session, including one that would allow patients to access smokeable cannabis products. That measure has also passed the House and is pending action on the Senate floor.

A complementary bill to tax flower marijuana is also set to be taken up by the Senate.

The House additionally passed a resolution on Monday requesting the legislature conduct a formal study on the impacts of recreational marijuana legalization prior to the start of the 2022 session.

While advocates are encouraged by the modest reforms advancing, there is disappointment that a bill to enact adult-use legalization was pulled by its sponsor this month after the House defeated a companion bill to tax recreational sales.

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