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Hemp: Using the Sense, or Cents, or Scents God Gave Us

What does Kiowa County think about the subject of Hemp? 
Colordo Counties that Utilize Hemp vs Not
That question has been poised to a number of citizens over the past year. Many are community leaders, some are farmers, some are parents, and some are business people.   It’s amazing, or a better word might be disheartening, that after some fairly involved articles published full of information and some long discussions among the folks in the county, the answer to what Kiowa County thinks about Hemp will still be today as it has been for 3-4 generations, “It’s marijuana,” “It’s illegal,” “It’s dangerous,” or simply, “What’s that?”

It’s time we understand that Kiowa County is mostly a lot like the other rural counties that surround us.  We may be even better off than some as a survey of the “10 Poorest Counties in the State of Colorado” does not include us – we’re 43rd of 64 counties.  It does, however, include some of our neighbors that might surprise you including Bent County, considered the poorest county in Colorado when using the Median Household Income and Unemployment statistics.  Fifth on that infamous list is
Otero County, the sixth poorest is Prowers County, and the ninth poorest is Crowley County.  

Being ranked 43rd out of 62 is better than the bottom, but Kiowa County is actually in the bottom 30% of the state. Not something to celebrate too loudly about.

“What do we do about it?” is the usual question that comes up when talking about how to save our towns and the county, as a whole.  There are a lot of topics and considerations that goes into economic and community development; however, they all come back to generating jobs, keeping our talented youth and young adults in the community, and creating a quality of life. 

We propose the miracle plant of HEMP can do all that and more.

Before we get too far into this subject, please understand this simple statement: “Hemp is not marijuana, and therefore not illegal to grow, ingest, or use.” 

So what is it?  It’s a miracle plant for Kiowa County; really for any rural county that has enough of a progressive mindset to figure out how to join, and be in the middle of, the quickly approaching multi-million-dollar industry.

First, a little lesson in what Hemp is and what it isn’t.  This requires just a brief history lesson.  In ancient times across the world hemp was grown for its many uses and was the king of an economy that was solid and prosperous.  Hemp was grown in America and the countries that trade with America clear up until the 1930s.  Thomas Jefferson and George Washington grew it on their estates for not only its medicinal value but also as a cash crop that could be used for many purposes.  But, unfortunately, Hemp was too good of a plant and when the Industrial Revolution was in high gear, big cotton and forestry corporations found a way to make Hemp go away---making it illegal to grow or possess by placing it in the cannabis family of illegal substances dominated by marijuana.  Marijuana, and hemp as a ride along, have been illegal for the past 80 years.  Hemp was basically forgotten about by generations of Americans because of its bad rap.

Growing up in the 1960s and 1970s the topic of Hemp never crossed our paths, especially those paths that meandered through rural Colorado.  As a young adult in the 1980s and 1990s, there’s no memory of even thinking or knowing about Hemp.  In fact, Hemp did not make our radar until marijuana was legalized in Colorado and the topic of Hemp came up in more conversations.  
Those conversations included comments like, “A friend gave me some hemp oil, so I turned it in to the police because I wasn’t sure if it was illegal or not;” or “Why are you proposing that we develop something that will get us in trouble?”  Makes some sense until you start questioning why some things are going on around us.

But, see, although Hemp is a cannabis plant as is marijuana, the two are polar opposites in the type of seed composition they develop.  The bad stuff, as in hallucinogenic stuff, is called THC.  That stuff is in marijuana and is a federally controlled substance; but, as we know, legal in Colorado---where, by the way---we live.  The good stuff, as in amazing health benefits for humans and pets, is called CBD.  That stuff is in Hemp and is not federally controlled and is legal in all 50 states.  That’s it---THC = bad (marijuana) --- CBD = good (Hemp).

Then why do people in most counties in Colorado understand the difference in THC and CBD and we do not?  Some will, of course, but most of the people in Kiowa County don’t.  We’re not alone, of course, but why do some, like us, not understand, and many people across the area are starting to get it? 

Why, for example, does La Junta have a multi-million-dollar company named Whole Hemp Company that is growing Hemp in the fields around La Junta, creating multiple jobs, and shipping the flower buds to labs in Colorado Springs to make CBD Oil---Hemp Oil.  No, they aren’t the mafia or drug cartel---they are entrepreneurs who are getting in on the ground floor of this industry that is poised to explode in the next few months and years.  La Junta has entered the market.
Why, for example, are farmers in the Springfield area developing Hemp seed that they hope will be approved by the Colorado Department of Agriculture as a strain of Hemp seed that can be used to grow Hemp across the state?  Those guys in Springfield are entrepreneurs who are getting in on the ground floor of this industry that is poised to explode in the next few months and years.  Baca County has entered the market.

And, why for example, if you look at the Industrial Hemp data from the Colorado Department of Agriculture that nearly every county in Colorado has at least one farm, most many more than one, registered to grow Hemp?  Even worse, why does every single agricultural county in eastern Colorado grow Hemp and Kiowa County and Lincoln County do not? 

These are questions we need to ask ourselves in the coming weeks as we explore the possibilities of Hemp and how Kiowa County can wake up and start asking some questions --- and even more --- start coming up with some solutions.

Much more on this topic in the weeks to come.
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