Colorado Hemp Industry Leaders Challenge State’s Selection of a Marijuana-focused Consultancy Inexperienced in Hemp to Manage the Hemp “Center of Excellence”
Industry Demands Full Transparency and a Restart of the Selection Process
Fort Collins, CO (July 15, 2020) – In the midst of a pandemic, economic uncertainty and the 2020 growing season for industrial hemp farmers, the Colorado hemp industry has united in protest to challenge the recent contract award to establish the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s (CDA) Hemp Center of Excellence (COE). This is the first time that the Colorado hemp industry and its leaders have come together to speak out against the Colorado Department of Agriculture’s decision to hire the Marijuana Policy Group (aka Marijuana Policy Group Consulting, Denver, CO) to actualize the Hemp Center of Excellence’s five year plan.
In a letter to Colorado Commissioner of Agriculture Kate Greenberg, hemp industry leaders expressed concerns that the state’s hemp industry “will not accept any marijuana-related group contracted to management, planning, laying out a plan or facilitating stakeholders in the development and/or goals of the Hemp Center of Excellence.”
In addition, the state’s hemp business community is demanding “the CDA begin/restart the contract process again in accordance with all state laws, rules, and regulations. We request the CDA directly include the Colorado hemp industry’s involvement by setting up a hemp stakeholders committee to establish rules and parameters for the selection criteria, which would be open to the public for full transparency.”
Respected state and national hemp industry leaders Veronica Carpio, Morris Beegle and Tim Gordon jointly said the issue is “not about creating a division of hemp and marijuana, but rather the concern of a fair process which includes hemp stakeholders, and immediate action by the CDA and Governor Polis.”
According to the letter submitted on July 10, 2020, to the CDA and Colorado Governor Jared Polis, there are notable conflicts of interest with Ean Seeb (the Governor’s Special Advisor on Cannabis), the Marijuana Policy Group and the CDA that are of concern to the state’s hemp community. “We ask for a fair process and will support the contract being awarded to any group that has actual long-term experience working with hemp farmers and the hemp industry, which is distinctly different from how the marijuana industry conducts business,” said Veronica Carpio, founder of GrowHempColorado.com, author of the “Colorado Hemp Foods Bill,” one the first hemp seed breeders in the U.S., and the first female licensed hemp farmer.
The Colorado hemp industry protest, prompted by a perceived lack of communication from the CDA about its decision making related to the Hemp Center of Excellence, has caused such concern that Morris Beegle, Co-founder of We Are for Better Alternatives, producer of the NOCO Hemp Expo, has considered moving the internationally recognized event elsewhere. “The Colorado hemp industry has worked hard for years to grow our industry as a national example and provide a proven track record in the development and actualization of economic value, industry integrity and regulatory oversight, with an emphasis on public safety front and center. We’ve worked to keep hemp regulations minimal compared to extensive marijuana rules and regulations through extensive legislative and bi-partisan support,” he said.
The Colorado hemp industry is also very concerned about perception, Beegle points out. “Perhaps most importantly, we are concerned about how this direct tie to the marijuana industry will look to the USDA, FDA and DEA. Colorado could risk losing its leadership role in the U.S. related to hemp. Colorado’s hemp stakeholders need the USDA and the FDA to support the state’s efforts. This becomes more difficult when the CDA selects a marijuana stakeholder to lead the charge and build Colorado’s flagship institution, the Center of Excellence. In fact, we think decisions of this nature inadvertently support the DEA’s desire to be actively involved in hemp plans at the state and federal levels, which is a giant step back for the hemp industry in Colorado.”
Industry advocate, business owner, researcher and farmer Tim Gordon said, “We absolutely welcome Marijuana Policy Group to the table for its input, but we are all in unison in the fact that any MJ policy group cannot and should not lead the hemp industry forward in development of the hemp Center of Excellence.
Centers of Excellence, established by USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture and state Departments of Agriculture, are created for the purposes of carrying out research, extension and education activities related to the food and agricultural sciences.
In challenging the appointment of the Marijuana Policy Group to manage the state’s COE, Colorado’s hemp industry leaders also emphasized in the letter to CDA their acknowledgement of the support Colorado Governor Jared Polis has shown to the state’s hemp industry. “We recognize the ongoing support and efforts by Governor Polis for industrial hemp on a national level and specifically here in Colorado,” they said. “He has always valued and acted upon our input and what is best for the hemp industry as a whole, and never for a single self-serving interest which is a rare, unique and a highly regarded asset to the Colorado hemp industry.”
About We Are for Better Alternatives (WAFBA)
We Are for Better Alternatives, producer of the 7th Annual NoCo Hemp Expo (NoCo7), is a leading organization for the advancement and advocacy of hemp farming, processing, production, innovation, education, policy and legalization in the USA. The entire team is committed to researching, developing and reporting on alternatives so that hemp can once again thrive, prosper, and help individuals and communities throughout America and around the globe. Visit www.wafba.org.
Morris Beegle, Colorado Hemp Company, 970.541.0448, firstname.lastname@example.org
Veronica Carpio, Grow Hemp Colorado, 720.401.5609, email@example.com
Tim Gordon, Functional Remedies, 970.238.0969, firstname.lastname@example.org
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