CSU hemp research could be in the works

English: Cultivation of industrial hemp for fi...
English: Cultivation of industrial hemp for fiber and for grain in france. Deutsch: Kultivation von industriellen Hanf in Frankreich Français : Culture de chanvre industriel pour les fibres et les graines. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CSU is in a prime position to study the uses of hemp with the passage of the Agricultural Act of 2014, the “Farm Bill,” which was signed into law by President Obama on Feb. 7.

The bill will allow for universities to research “industrial hemp” in states that have legalized its cultivation.

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According to Mike Hooker, executive director of CSU’s Public Affairs and Communications, there many opportunities for research in the production and use of hemp.

Students interviewed agreed.

“CSU is a leading research university and obviously is equipped to research hemp,” said Megan Riveros, senior animal science major.

The uses of hemp are vast and further research could educate CSU students on how to best profit from it.

“Hemp is an amazing plant,” said Ben Ott, junior horticulture major. “You can use pretty much the entire crop in one form or another.”

Sustainability has pervaded CSU’s actions for years and hemp cultivation fits that motto. If CSU researchers need a place to start, here are some suggestions of

According to various sources cited by Rense.com hemp seeds are more nutritious and digestable than soybeans; hemp fiber is longer, stronger, more absorbent and more insulative than cotton fiber; hemp grows well without pesticides because it is a weed; hemp produces more pulp per acre than timber; hemp’s low lignin content reduces the need for acids used in pulping; hemp paper requires fewer chemicals to bleach because it has a naturally creamy color; hemp fiber resists decomposition thus it can be recycled more and hemp can be processed into a wide range of biomass energy sources, from fuel pellets to liquid fuels.

The potential for hemp begs the question, why was it prohibited in the first place?

Ott brought up a classic conspiracy theory surrounding the controversy, that the paper industry headed by DuPont led the campaign using racist motivation to suppress the cannabis plant. Whether those were major factors in the outlawing of hemp and marijuana are debatable.

During World War II, hemp was a major industry. According to PBS.org’s Marijuana Timeline, the U.S. Department of Agriculture launched a program called, “Hemp for Victory,” which encouraged farmers to grow hemp. But the industry faded after the war and hemp was rolled up with marijuana with the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act in 1970.

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“Hemp gets a bad rap because of its relation to marijuana,” Ott said. But hemp has little to no THC, the psychoactive element in marijuana. THC is in the buds, which do not grow in industrial hemp.

The question, at this point, seems to be when research will occur.

“CSU is watching closely to see how the farm bill results in necessary changes to permissibly cultivate, grow and conduct other activities related to researching industrial hemp in the US. CSU is poised to help explore the possibility that hemp could become an important crop in Colorado,” Hooker wrote in an email to the Collegian.

“Any research opportunity would be good for the school,” said Amanda Summers, senior equine and animal sciences major.

It seems many agree that hemp is a great opportunity for CSU, so let hemp inspire new patents and sustainable products.

Collegian Editor at Large Daniel Sewell can be reached at community@collegian.com.  Sewell also works for the CSU Center of Public Deliberation.