Hemp a highlight of Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado economic development summit
September 19, 2017
CRAIG — From hemp to coding schools, a diverse lineup of presentations at Friday’s economic summit emphasized regional collaboration and innovation, including a presentation by the so-called Mister Hemp.
Mister Hemp, also known as Jason Lauve, has spent years researching hemp and its industrial applications as the founder and executive director of Hemp Cleans, a nonprofit founded in 2012 to work for the regulation and cultivation of industrial hemp.
"I love this plant," Lauve told a rapt audience, before providing detailed information about what makes hemp different from marijuana and the innovative applications of hemp in a diversity of industries, from aerospace engineering to textile manufacturing.
Approved by Colorado voters in November 2012, Amendment 64 to the Colorado Constitution regulated retail marijuana and directed the Colorado General Assembly to enact legislation governing the cultivation, processing and sale of industrial hemp.
In 2013, the Colorado Department of Agriculture was tapped by legislators to establish registration and inspection regulations pertaining to the cultivation of hemp.
"Hemp has become a very vivid conversation in areas with a good deal of agriculture in their economies, so we talked about bringing Jason on — as he is very knowledgeable about the subject — so that he could share what he knows with people in Northwest Colorado who may not have been exposed to the idea," said Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado Executive Director Bonnie Peterson.
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Four large-scale agricultural producers, three on the Western Slope, will harvest hemp this year using an innovative harvester.
"Up until this year, we didn't have any large equipment to process the hemp," Lauve said.
In addition to the commercial potential of hemp, Lauve has a personal reason for his appreciation of the plant. After a sports injury resulted in his partial paralysis, he began taking high doses of hemp oil and believes it was part of his recovery.
"I haven't gotten high in years. I believe that this plant knows when it needs to help your body," he said.
Lauve's presentation was one of many during the daylong conference, which also featured presentations about current economic conditions in the region, regional demographics, entrepreneurship, co-working spaces, regional collaboration and coding school opportunities.
"I'm seeing this (economic development) more as a regional issue. We all have the same interests and issues," said Judge Sandra Gardner. "Instead of looking at only Craig and Moffat County, by combining resources, we have a greater reach and higher potential for a more positive future."
Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association and the Moffat County Local Marketing Districts were presenting sponsors of the AGNC's 2017 Economic Development Summit, which was held in Craig for the third consecutive year.