Colorado hemp.

Author:Garvey, John

Theres nothing "naughty" about it. Colorado farmers just harvested the third legal hemp crop. Although there's been a steep learning curve, growers benefit from hemp's naturally drought- and pest-resistant properties, high margins and the support of state lawmakers. Yeah, it's cannabis, but hemp is not the same as its close relative, marijuana. Less celebrated, hemp has thousands of uses--just not getting high.

"It's the same plant, but humans have chosen to do different things with it," explains Rich Becks, CEO of Chimney Rock Farms. "We now have varieties that are non-psychoactive...and can express some of those useful features like food, fiber, shelter, but can also provide some value in terms of relieving stress and inflammation"

Although environmental stewardship is a major theme in the hemp industry, Chimney Rock Farms sets itself apart with its no-till farming methods and passive solar greenhouses. A monument to energy efficiency, the buildings require less than 25 percent the electricity per square foot as conventional designs. "The cheapest barrel of oil is the one you don't burn," Becks says.

Becks hopes to see hemp remain genetically diverse and processing decentralized as the industry matures. Hemp extracts have known medicinal properties, and most of the revenue from hemp is coming from the CBD market. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of dozens of chemicals unique to the cannabis family and highly sought-after for certain medicinal attributes.

At the cutting edge of hemp research, Boulder based CBDRx is engaged in several medical efficacy...

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