Editorial: Hemp industry could be an economic boom for Moffat County
Hemp, the lesser-known cousin of marijuana, is one of three main subtypes of the cannabis plant.
Hearing the word hemp can cause some panic for small communities like Craig, but really, there shouldn’t be anything to fear. In fact, the word hemp could lead to much-needed economic and industrial growth right here in Moffat County.
Unlike marijuana, hemp is a non-intoxicating crop that contains less than 1% of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which gives marijuana users a high.
Hemp fiber can be used to make fabrics and textiles, rope and paper. Hemp seeds and flowers are often used for health foods and organic body care including the controversial CBD oil.
Last week, some of Colorado’s biggest players in the hemp industry spoke to a group of about 70 Yampa Valley residents at Moffat County Fairgrounds Pavilion, a hemp symposium was hosted by Associated Governments of Northwest Colorado, Colorado State University’s Moffat County Extension, and the Craig Chamber of Commerce.
The day-long symposium revealed a web of new federal rules published last week effectively legalizing and regulating hemp production, as well as the logistics and basics of marketing, growing, harvesting, and selling one’s hemp.
Regardless of anyone’s position on the decriminalization of marijuana or the legalization of cannabis for medicinal use or the newest push for it to be permissible recreationally, it is hard to turn around decades of prohibition on a dime.
Hemp has a world of industrial applications. The oldest and most obvious is rope. The plant’s sturdy fibers make it perfect for fabrication purposes.
At the same time, it is valuable for the oil it contains, the same cannabidiol or CBD that is being hawked in hundreds of products from lotions and creams to gummies and candies being offered in shops on every street corner.
All that said, the hemp industry could be a good thing for Moffat County. Hemp farming is a sustainable industry that could prosper here, teaching farmers a new trade, while also potentially giving the county a new industry to grow with as the energy industry dwindles in the area.
The hemp industry could create more jobs for Moffat County, potentially helping with the economic transition that is upon us, while also attracting the younger generation to the area. Classes on the hemp industry could be taught at CNCC, creating a direct line from college to the workforce.
Aside from creating a new, thriving industry with jobs, it could also be a tax incentive for the city and/or the county to help generate funds. With sales taxes from energy dropping, this could be an economic boom for the area.
The word hemp can certainly be scary and seen as just another drug being brought into the area, but a little bit of research and an open mind can work wonders.
Exploring the possibility of bringing the hemp industry to Moffat County could work out favorably for the area as a whole.
It is certainly a difficult crop to grow, and much research and planning must go into potentially bringing the industry here, but hemp offers great potential for Moffat County agriculture. Producers need to be realistic about the challenges ahead though, while regulators need to give much-needed direction so cultivation can proceed with confidence.
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