Colorado: Language concerning 'industrial hemp' will be stripped from the Constitution

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Colorado will define 'industrial hemp' by either federal law or state statute after voters passed Amendment X, which pulled the definition from the state constitution. Colorado would maintain compliance with federal regulation if federal law changes.

The state legislature referred the measure to the state ballot, and it enjoyed bipartisan support from state senators and representatives. Amendment 64 allowed recreational marijuana use in the state, and it also added the definition of 'industrial hemp' to the state constitution. Since the language is embedded in the state constitution, it can only be changed by amendment, a potentially lengthy and arduous process.

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By passing Amendment X, voters have opted to give control of the definition to the state legislature. The definition itself is dense legalese that pertains to the concentration of THC in industrial hemp. The Legislative Council's definition calls hemp an agricultural commodity that belongs to the cannabis family, having only trace amounts of THC, the psychoactive component of marijuana.

Federally, hemp is considered a scheduled drug, but legislation before Congress addresses industrial hemp. Colorado is the only state in the country with a constitution that defines hemp. Supporters wanted the language pulled so it might be more easily changed, allowing Colorado to stay competitive with other states that have legalized the crop. Detractors worried the amendment might have unforeseen consequences Colorado voters aren't prepared for.

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