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Hemp returns to stage as US pot rules change; expo opens

Published:Tuesday | April 7, 2015 | 4:00 AM

COLORADO, (AP):

Once banned because it is a close cousin to marijuana, hemp is coming back in the state of Colorado and now has its own convention, attracting international interest as a new crop for farmers struggling to find new crops to stay afloat.

Hemp, which is fibre drawn from marijuana plants, was outlawed in 1937, but a new Colorado law allows it. However, farmers are still trying to find ways to get their plants and seeds to market because federal law still heavily regulates the industry.

Ten states have allowed the growing of hemp. Those states are Colorado, Washington, California, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia. Colorado and Washington have also legalised recreational marijuana.

The plant's return to legitimacy could clear the way for US farmers to compete in an industry dominated by China.

The expo, featuring 70 companies and organisation, is focusing on industrial hemp. Hemp contains less than 0.3 per cent of THC, the active ingredient in marijuana. Plants surpassing that amount cannot be used commercially. Over one per cent of THC is considered potentially intoxicating.

The expo will showcase products made from hemp, including paper, food, rope and clothing. There will also be legal experts on hand.

The seeds cannot be transported from state to state, said Ed Lehrburger, one of three founders of Fort Lupton's PureVision Technology, a biomass processing facility with a focus on turning hemp into different usable products.