Amendment X Explained: Colorado’s hemp laws

Amendment X Explained: Colorado’s hemp laws

Hemp was just voted out of the Colorado constitution. What does this mean for hemp farmers in the state?

When Amendment 64 passed in 2012, Coloradans also voted to add the definition of industrial hemp to the state’s constitution. This in turn required legislators to establish regulations regarding cultivation, processing and distribution. Amendment 64 also resulted in the establishment of the Industrial Hemp Regulatory Program in the state Department of Agriculture.

Amendment X changes this completely.

Amendment X

The constitutional definition of Colorado hemp is very similar to current federal law. The original language defined hemp as, “the plant of the genus cannabis and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that does not exceed three-tenths percent (.03%) on a dry weight basis.”

The federal definition of industrial hemp is nearly identical to the Colorado hemp laws put in the constitution, but that’s not the main purpose of Amendment X. The goal is to not get left behind.

Keep in mind, the only benefit of the constitutional definition was its protection against federal government, should they change their definition of industrial hemp for the worse, such as lowering the allowable THC limit below .03%.

Keeping Colorado Hemp in the Game

There has been a lot of talk of industrial hemp getting a facelift in the federal law books soon. This could mean the federal definition completely changing, or just being updated. One of the more popular predictions is that the law will change to raise the allowable THC limit to 1% as opposed to the current definition of .03%.

If Coloradans had voted against Amendment X, Colorado hemp would have maintained its constitutional definition, meaning even if the federal government raised the allowable limit to 1%, Colorado hemp farmers would still have to abide by the constitutional law of the state, and maintain .03% or less. This makes the reasons for approving Amendment X rather justified.

What Happens Next?

The people of Colorado have voted to approve Amendment X, taking industrial hemp out of the state constitution, and putting it in line with federal definitions. Should the federal definition change, Colorado laws regarding industrial hemp will change with it. Colorado also has the option to create statutory laws regarding hemp in the state.

This means that Colorado could pass its own law (outside of the constitution) raising the allowable THC limit to 1%. However the state would risk fierce backlash from the federal government, as it would go against federal law. The constitutional definition that is now removed protected Colorado’s hemp farmers from persecution, and some worry now that this decision will open them back up to federal persecution.

What will most likely happen, is not much. Colorado is now in line with most states in the country, and is on par to adjust its definitions as federal law changes. Considering the definition in Colorado’s constitution was the same as the federal definition, there will be little difference noticed by most.

Is Hemp Constitutional in Colorado? Harvest Special Pt. 5

Is Hemp Constitutional in Colorado? Harvest Special Pt. 5

What makes hemp, hemp? Is it where it’s grown, or how its grown?

It all depends where you live at this point. The Agricultural Act of 2014 allowed farmers to grow industrial scale hemp legally, as long as the THC content was .03% or lower in the plant.

Seems simple enough. But when states have the right to make their own laws, the Agricultural Act becomes basically irrelevant. Some states require .01% THC or less to be considered legal. Other states require .05% or less, and some are even considering raising it to 1% or less THC.

Colorado’s hemp laws

Colorado is the only state in the country that actually includes cultivation in the state constitution. This means that Coloradans have the right to cultivate legally in Colorado. But that could all change soon.

A new measure being voted on this midterm would take the laws regarding hemp in Colorado, and make them statutory rather than constitutional. While the constitutional law currently allows legal cultivation of plants containing .03% THC or less, Amendment X would change that law to better reflect the federal law.

What if?

What if the people vote no on Amendment X? Hemp will remain in the constitution of Colorado, with a mandatory THC level of .03%. If the federal government were to reclassify hemp tomorrow and say the new limit is 1%, Colorado could be stuck. With the delays between introducing new laws and voting on them, it could be upwards of 2 years before Colorado could catch up with the rest of the country.

What if the people vote yes? Hemp will become statutory, not constitutional, putting it on par with federal regulation. Growing will no longer be a right, but a regulated law organized and voted on by lawmakers. There will be little noticeable change at first, as the constitutional definition of Colorado hemp is near identical to the federal definition already. But should the federal definition change to lower the plant’s controlled substance status or raise the legal THC limit, Colorado will be on par with the rest of the country.

What’s your vote?

What would you vote if you were a Coloradan in this situation? Would you want hemp to stay in control of the state, enshrined in the constitution, only to be changed by the people’s vote? Or, would you want to join the rest of the country in a unified federal regulation of hemp?

Hear what Chip is planning on doing on this week’s Real Dirt episode! In the FINAL Harvest Special, Chip talks about the new bill and what it could mean for Colorado and the country.

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