On November 6, 2018, Amendment X – a ballot measure set to redefine the term industrial hemp within the Colorado Constitution – passed with over 60 percent of voter approval.
The state’s definition of industrial hemp as “the part of the genus cannabis and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed three-tenths percent on a dry weight basis” became part of the Colorado Constitution with the passing of Amendment 64 on November 6, 2012. As of November 6, 2018, Colorado was the only state in the U.S. to have a constitutional definition of industrial hemp. Amendment X changes the definition of industrial hemp to have the “the same meaning as it is defined in federal law or as the term is defined in Colorado statute.” Industrial hemp is currently defined in the federal Agricultural Act of 2014 as “the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.”
While this definition is substantially similar to the definition that Colorado had embodied in its Constitution as well as in its current agricultural statutes, its removal from the Constitution will allow the state to more quickly and easily adapt with the fast paced changes in the arena of hemp classification and legalization.
Under current federal law, all cannabis varieties – including industrial hemp – are classified as controlled substances as regulated by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice. However, federal legislation to remove industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana and the Controlled Substances Act is pending, and in the event that federal laws addressing or defining industrial hemp change, Colorado’s deferment to the federal definition would effectively keep Colorado in step with federal regulations.