Rural Colorado county approves first hemp greenhouse
STERLING, Colo. (AP) — Commissioners in rural Logan County in northeast Colorado have approved an application for an industrial hemp research and development processing facility, as well as a 2-acre greenhouse.
The hemp greenhouse will be Colorado’s first and could eventually employ between 15 and 25 people, said hemp activist Jason Lauve of Broomfield, who spoke in favor of the application, The (Sterling) Journal-Advocate reported Wednesday.
“The hemp project to me is really important, because it’s going to start to give us the ability to demonstrate that we can utilize industrial hemp for specific purposes such as building, textile purposes, adhesives,” he said.
The goal of the greenhouse will be to develop a stock of hemp seed suited to growing in Colorado.
Colorado has a few dozen industrial hemp plots under cultivation, but seeds are expensive and illegal to import from other countries.
“The ultimate goal of the project is to really create a seed stock and product that are both commercially viable,” said Mark Spoone, of Castle Rock, one of Bornhoft’s partners.
The challenge will be creating seeds that reliably produce hemp with little THC, the intoxicating chemical in hemp’s cousin marijuana, Spoone said.
“We’re looking for a seed stock that will create essentially three key things: food, fiber and fuel,” he explained, adding that the project will also “allow us the ability to develop technologies and processes for growing stuff, understand how we lower those THC levels, how we can increase the other components.”
County Commissioner Rocky Samber asked about the protocol for making sure there aren’t plants with THC levels that are very high. Lauve said the state will test part of their field, plus they will have private testing done to monitor THC levels and he said the operation will be transparent about what is found in those tests.
Plants with .3 to 1 percent THC levels can’t be sold, but they can be used for research and anything with above 1 percent has to be destroyed.
“I think the key to all of this is to keep everybody in the loop. It’s a new project, it’s a new plant for not only the state, but the country,” Lauve said.
Tom McClain, from Broomfield, whose great-grandfather planted hemp, stressed the “incredible importance I think Sterling plays in helping re-establish hemp as an agricultural product in this region of the United States.”
McClain predicted the development would be noticed in nearby states.
“You guys have the opportunity to help demonstrate to Nebraska, Kansas, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Texas, the viability of this product,” McClain said.