AURORA — More than twice as much hemp is grown in Colorado than gets processed, Gov. Jared Polis said Thursday on the opening day of the NoCo Hemp Expo, and the industry must look beyond CBD products if it wants to put the state’s excess crop to use.
“The pandemic has had an impact. The number of registered hemp farms is down. Market dynamics from the evolving marketplace continue to impact the entire sector,” he said. “To address this issue, we need to ensure that hemp farmers can utilize expanded markets for the products you produce. The best way to do that is to address the gap in processing that exists.”
Hemp is an incredibly versatile plant that can be used to make a host of different products such as paper, plastics, clothes, building materials and animal feed, Polis said.
“These are things that have been on the drawing board for years, but are only now becoming economically viable,” he said.
State scientists are working to demonstrate the nutritional value of hemp and its bioproducts for livestock feed.
“We want to do everything we can as your partner,” Polis said. “… We really need infrastructure to make development of these products possible.”
As the potential uses for hemp outgrow the CBD market, Polis said he expects the Centennial State to remain a leader in innovation.
“Colorado isn’t just participating in the progress of this industry, we’re defining it and writing the history,” he said. “… The story of the hemp industry in Colorado is really one of determination and grit. In many ways, it manifests the spirit of Coloradans themselves.”
The story of this year’s NoCo Hemp Expo wasn’t without its own need for determination.
After the trade show — organized by hemp advocacy group We Are For Better Alternatives and Colorado Hemp Co. — moved from Loveland to Denver in 2019, COVID-19 forced scaled-back events over the past several years.
“It’s good to have COVID behind us, and we’re just going to move forward and normalize society. That’s the plan,” lead organizer Morris Beegle said.
With the pandemic waning, the event faced a new challenge this year: a last-minute venue change.
The show was set to be held at the Crowne Plaza Denver Convention Center, but that site was no longer available due to an ongoing government humanitarian program taking place at the venue, organizers, who quickly pivoted to hosting the eighth annual event at the Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, said last month.
“We’re very happy with how it’s all come together,” Beegle said.
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