The 2018 State Ballot Information Booklet has been released. With it comes a myriad of decisions that Colorado voters will have to consider between now and the midterm elections on November 6. One of those decisions is whether or not to align Colorado's definition of industrial hemp with that of federal law and state statutes.

When the Colorado constitution adopted Amendment 64, which legalized the use of recreational cannabis, or marijuana, in 2012, it also included a definition of industrial hemp. Industrial hemp is currently defined by the Colorado constitution as "the plant of the genus cannabis and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration that does not exceed three-tenths (0.3) percent on a dry weight basis."

Amendment X, which appears on Colorado's 2018 statewide ballot, proposes to strike that definition from the state constitution in favor of adopting the federal definition or state statutory definitions. The Colorado constitution's definition currently does match the federal definition of any cannabis plant with a THC concentration not exceeding 0.3 percent. The argument in favor of the amendment states that locking the state definition with the federal one will allow the Colorado hemp industry to remain competitive with other states as the federal legislative landscape evolves.

The primary argument against Amendment X is that the federal definition and legislation could change in ways that are unfavorable to the Colorado hemp industry. Cannabidiol (CBD), a hemp extract with mental health benefits, is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

At La Junta's Sept. 10 agriculture town hall, House Agriculture Committee chairman Mike Conaway said, "In all likelihood — I don’t want to give away my total bargaining position yet — but you’ve got a good chance of, if we get this thing signed by the president, of having hemp being in the bill." Conaway hinted that hemp and its extracts could be removed from the DEA's Schedule 1 list; however, the crop's fate remains to be sealed. The final draft of the Senate's 2018 farm bill is due by the end of the fiscal year, September 30.