Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper has signed the bill to protect hemp farmers registered with the state who use water stored in federal reservoirs, according to a report from The Journal. The bill was introduced in the Senate by Republican state Sen. Don Coram after an Arkansas Valley farmer informed him he was barred from using water from a Bureau of Reclamation facility to water his hemp crops.
“I said this is wrong because hemp has a great future in Colorado,” Corman said in the report, noting that legal cannabis cultivators were allowed to use the water “because they were paying nearly 20 times the amount of the normal rate.”
Corman said that the bill did receive some pushback from the Colorado Water Congress and Farm Bureau. However, “Against all odds, it came out 99-to-1 even with all of the opposition,” Corman said.
During the signing, Hickenlooper said hemp production “could create a new niche market” in the state and questioned its federally illegal status. “Hemp is a very versatile product with a lot of uses, and it does not make sense why it’s illegal,” he said.
State Rep. Marc Caitlin, the Republican sponsor in the House, said the “facts are that Colorado water rights are owned under Colorado law,” and since the state legalized hemp production, hemp farmers have every right to use the resources even if they are stored in federal reservoirs.
Hickenlooper indicated that there were 1,500 acres of hemp cultivated in the state last year.