Elbert County commissioners voted to approve the Elbert County Industrial Hemp Cultivation and Processing Ordinance at their Jan. 22 meeting. The biggest change now allows for hemp growers to process …
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Elbert County commissioners voted to approve the Elbert County Industrial Hemp Cultivation and Processing Ordinance at their Jan. 22 meeting.
The biggest change now allows for hemp growers to process their product on site, with an approved application from the county. Land use regulations were also updated to clarify the required zoning for production and processing, and the local permitting requirement was removed.
Elbert County has had a hemp program for several years, but with the passing of the federal 2018 Farm Bill, which removed industrial hemp from the Schedule 1 controlled substance list, the county has seen a big increase in the number of applications to cultivate and process hemp.
“Several years ago we had listening session with some hemp growers in the state, with about eight or nine of them being in Elbert County,” said Sam Albrecht, Elbert County manager. “I think we had 22 applications last year, and at least that many again this year.”
The previous ordinance was created to address the issues of potential opportunity for illicit marijuana grows, misuse of water and potential public nuisance. Now that hemp cultivation has become legal on a federal level, the county’s ordinance needs to evolve to encompass new regulations.
“Cultivation of hemp provides an opportunity to further diversify agricultural production in Elbert County,” said Commissioner Chris Richardson. “We welcome the State opening this opportunity to our farmer under the pilot program in previous years. There are now new federal requirements placed on the state as hemp production has been fully legalized nationally. These requirements cover many of the concerns we addressed in our previous hemp ordinance. For those reasons, the newly adopted updates to the county ordinance remove the local permitting requirement.”
The new ordinance will allow the processing of hemp, which allows for “production or processing of any byproducts of hemp to include Cannabidiol (CBD) derivatives, oils, or CBD oils of any kind, and any foods, sugars, solvents, plastics, fibers, textiles, insulating/insulation, rope or fuels derived from hemp.”
Cultivation or processing of THC in any form is strictly prohibited, and any hemp grown must contain no more than 0.3% THC. New federal requirements require more frequent and stringent testing of THC levels.
The Elbert County ordinance outlines approved methods for hemp processing, which are designed to keep residents safe, and prohibit certain methods that have been deemed dangerous.
Prohibited methods include “extraction of hemp using butane solvents, or other combustible materials or such methods prohibited by the State of Colorado for processing as expressed and/or described within C.R.S 18-18-406.6. This means that extraction is prohibited using any liquid chemical compressed gas, or commercial product that has a flash point at or lower than 38 degrees Celsius or 100 degrees Fahrenheit.”
Applications for hemp processing need to include a safety plan, and processes must provide proof of testing certifying that every shipment meets the state and federal requirements.
Hemp processing is considered light industrial, and falls under the zoning of Special Use Review.
County officials said the ordinance will continue to evolve and be updated as the industry grows and to keep up with state and federal guidelines.
“Hemp is an agricultural product and the county is glad to see the recognition of this at the federal level,” said Richardson. “We have confidence that the Colorado Department of Agriculture will be diligent in exercising their responsibilities in regard to the health, safety and welfare of our citizens.”
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