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CSU attorneys lobby for hemp research, university studies now possible

English: Jared Polis, Colorado politician.
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo, proponent of hemp research. . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CSU is becoming a “green university” in more ways than one.

After university officials successfully lobbied for a federal amendment that allows colleges and universities to research, grow and cultivate industrial hemp in states where it is already legal without fear of breaking federal laws, CSU is now positioned to begin conducting studies on the cannabis plant to establish itself as a university authority on the budding field.

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The amendment to the Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Bill was in part due to Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. and CSU. It was created so that University would feel comfortable moving forward with industrial hemp research, according to Rep. Polis.

“Frankly, we didn’t think the language was necessary, but CSU’s attorneys wanted this language in order to engage in a robust hemp research program at the University,” Polis said. “We were able to get the language that CSU wanted so that CSU could establish itself as a center of hemp research.”

The University recognizes the opportunities associated with industrial hemp research and is ready to help explore those opportunities, according to Mike Hooker, CSU’s executive director of public affairs and communications. However, the University has not begun any hemp research thus far, nor have they established funding for such.
“If this turns out to be an important agricultural industry, we want to be prepared to support that industry,” said Tony Frank, president of CSU.

Since the FARRM Bill’s passing, it is now legal for a researcher at CSU to conduct research on industrial hemp as long as they are registered with the Colorado Department of Agriculture and comply with their rules, according to Troy Bauder, member of the Industrial Hemp Advisory Committee representing research institutions of higher education.

Polis said he hopes CSU lays out their plans for research soon as they are an important component of the future of industrial hemp.

“There is a lot of crop development that needs to be done over the next decade that would allow this crop to be produced in industrial quantities here in Colorado and across our country,” Polis said. “CSU has the expertise to establish our region as a center for jobs and technology.”

Some confusion exists as to the differences between industrial hemp and marijuana and the uses and products associated with each. Hemp is not a drug and can be used in food, clothing, paper, even fuel.

Colorado’s Amendment 64, which legalized recreational marijuana, defines industrial hemp as “a plant of the genus Cannabis and any part of that plant, whether growing or not, containing a Delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of no more than .3 percent on a dry weight basis.”

While the FARRM Bill allows CSU to research without fear of federal interference, there is still funding to consider. The University can not provide money for research. Faculty must apply for research grants themselves, according to Frank.

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“We don’t just have money sitting around to do research,” Frank said. “All we can provide is a supportive environment.”

Collegian Green Beat Reporter Laren Cyphers can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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