Three varieties of industrial hemp seed are the first to attain certification from the state for widespread use. They meet the requirements to produce mature plants with less than 0.3% THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.
The certification means farmers can rely on the seeds to produce uncontaminated, legal help plants, says Duane Sinning, Assistant Director of Plant Industries with the Colorado Department of Agriculture.
"What this does is it mainstreams hemp into the same practices that farmers expect in all their other crops, whether that's corn or alfalfa or pinto beans," Sinning says.
Sinning adds there are currently about 5800 acres of industrial hemp growing outdoors in Colorado, which are monitored by the department for legal THC levels.
Damian Ferris directs agronomy at Colorado Cultivars, an industrial hemp company. They're working on getting their own strains certified, but he says these first varieties are paving the way.
"Any kind of activity that normalizes hemp and makes it more like other agricultural commodities is great for everybody," he says.
Ferris says he hopes to have Colorado Cultivars' industrial hemp varieties approved next year.
Hemp has many uses, including edible seeds and a plastic-like composite.