Three weeks after Colorado became the first state to start regulating industrial hemp since the federal government allowed limited hemp regulation, the state agency now has approved 21 applications.
Under regulations that took effect this year, the state department of agriculture is tasked with registering farmers who grow hemp, which is contrived from the cannabis plant.
Ron Carleton, the state’s deputy commissioner of agriculture, said farmers have shown a great deal of interest in the crop, which doesn’t require as much water as others and has a wide variety of uses, from fiberglass to cooking oil to fabric.
The U.S. is the world’s No. 1 importer of hemp, and Colorado hemp enthusiasts — including farmers young and old from across the state — see economic opportunity in being the first ones in the nation allowed to grow it.