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Growing Green

A letter from the editor of 5280's October 2019 issue.

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As we head toward another volatile election year and talk of a global economic slowdown becomes more prevalent, there’s a burgeoning industry in Colorado that—at least for now—appears to be immune not only to shortsighted partisanship, but also to the whims of the markets. If the first so-called green rush happened after the legalization of medical marijuana and the second came after the legalization of recreational weed, one could dub the recent explosion of the hemp business in the Centennial State green rush number three. Hemp, the nonintoxicating cannabis sibling of marijuana, may have been legalized in a 2018 federal farm bill, but the DEA still considers cannabis compounds, such as THC and CBD, Schedule I substances. That legal gray area hasn’t stopped legions of Coloradans from entering a sector they believe could bring hemp’s alleged health benefits to consumers—and a different kind of green to their bank accounts. They might be right: Experts say estimates putting the industry at $2.6 billion nationwide by 2022 are wildly conservative. To learn more, deputy editor Lindsey B. King immersed herself in the complexities of hemp and, after her initial reporting, wondered if she’d be able to demystify the business. “The policies, regulations, and definitions concerning hemp aren’t just confusing and contradictory,” King says. “They’re also constantly evolving. The industry is being born as we speak.” After wading through the murk, King produced “Everything Coloradans Never Knew They Needed To Understand About Hemp“, a breakdown of the Colorado hemp biz that will help you understand both the economic impact of this budding sector and what may—or may not—be in those CBD “sleep” gummies you’ve been swallowing before you tuck yourself in each night.

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