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Brian Tomlinson

The Colorado Department of Agriculture has certified its first domestic hemp seeds that reliably produce plants low enough in THC that it doesn’t qualify as marijuana, according to an Associated Press report. The seeds are tailored for the state’s high altitude so it’s unclear how much interest they will draw from out-of-state hemp producers.

There are nearly 400 licensed hemp cultivators in Colorado and, according to Duane Sinning, a representative for the department, the seed certification “is vital to the long-term growth of the industry.”

“A farmer, he already takes a lot of risk dropping a seed into the ground, whether you’ll have enough water, all that,” Sinning said in the report. “This crop is even riskier.”

Congress authorized hemp production in 2014, but seed scarcity is a hurdle to more farms getting on board due to high seed prices – which start at $25 a pound and can rise to more than a dollar per seed. If the plants grown from those seeds are above 0.3 percent THC they must be destroyed; a total loss for the grower, which is why it’s so risky. Even though Congress permits hemp production, just 29 states have hemp-growing certification programs.

The Agriculture Department will not set the seed prices, instead leaving that responsibility to the seed distributors in the state. Sinning suggested the prices may be higher than their imported counterparts due to the certification.  

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