Governor John Hickenlooper has signed a bill that will create a group to study the feasibility of using hemp products in animal feed, working under the commissioner of agriculture. The group will include a hemp producer, a hemp processor, a legal expert, a higher-education representative who's studied hemp policy, a veterinarian, a livestock producer, and anyone else the commissioner decides could help expand a discussion of hemp.
"Over the course of history, the stuff grew wild in Nebraska and Kansas and all over the Midwest. It's not like animals haven't been feeding on hemp and cannabis seeds for a long time. I mean, hemp seeds were a staple in birdseed up until about fifteen years ago," says Morris Beegle, founder and president of the Colorado Hemp Company. "Hemp seed is great animal food. There's plenty of research to be done, but it poses no health risks. It's super-nutritious. Animals should be eating it, so I'm glad Colorado stepped up and had this piece of legislation signed off on it. It's good for the industry. It's good for the state."
The bill was sponsored by Senator Kerry Donovan, a rancher, and Representative Jeni Arndt, who lives in Larimer County and chairs the Agriculture, Livestock and Natural Resources committee in the Colorado House.
This group will meet multiple times throughout the year and present recommendations by December 31, 2017. Beegle, who moved from promoting music to promoting hemp, says he's confident they'll come back with a positive recommendation.
Cannabis is "the most genetically diverse plant on the planet, and unfortunately it's gotten such a bad rap because of propaganda and government, corporate collusion for the last eighty years. The truth is coming out now. The science is on our side," Beegle says.
The bill was signed just ten days before Colorado will host one of the largest hemp conventions in the country. Industry leaders will gather in Loveland on March 31 for the fourth annual NoCo Hemp Expo, which Beegle and his team organizes.
The first day of the two-day expo is reserved for industry leaders and a discussion of their needs and concerns. Former CIA director Jim Woolsey will provide the opening keynote, and a group from the Cannabis Professional Advancement Series will present the latest legal and regulatory issues facing the industry.
On April 1, the expo is open to the public; it will offer panels on hemp basics, family farms and popular discussion topics like athletes and cannabinoids, and cannabis and veterans. There will be hands-on workshops on how to use hemp to insulate, make paper and weave, and also how to cook with hemp and infuse coffee with it.
"Every year we get more people underneath the roof, and there's this energy that's been building," says Beegle. "I mean, you can tell there's really something going on in this industry, and something I really look forward to more than anything is the people getting together and the energy that's created. It's a real positive energy.
"We're fighting for the whole plant. We're not giving this up to big marijuana, big pharma," he continues. It's ours. It's for the people...and that's the general theme of the conference this year."
Find more information on the NoCo Hemp Expo at nocohempexpo.com.