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Calming Canines with Cannabis

Good news for Colorado hemp growers


Business is booming for companies that use cannabidiol from hemp – the part of the cannabis plant that won't get you high – for pet products. And that's good news for Colorado hemp growers.

According to the hemp advocacy organization Vote Hemp's crop report, there are 25,713 acres of hemp grown in 19 states. Colorado accounts for 9,700 of those acres. Pet product manufacturers say they chose Colorado-grown hemp for several reasons.

"A lot of stuff I was researching was coming from China, and it had heavy metals and pesticides," says Dave Merrell, founder of Sal Lake City-based Healthy Hemp Pet Co. Then a veterinarian told him about a hemp farm near La Junta. "I walked their fields, watched them process the hemp, saw their lab. I was very impressed."

Merrell has since switched to a USDA-certified organic farm in Fort Collins.

Christy Love, co-founder of Reno, Nevada-based Super Snouts Hemp Co., says most of her products use Colorado-grown hemp.

"Hemp is normally grown outdoors, and Colorado has an excellent climate for growing hemp," she says, adding that the segment is growing because pet owners are learning about the benefits of hemp/CBD. "Every day there is more research going into the products."

Some of that research is coming from Colorado State University's James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Neurologist Stephanie McGrath is overseeing clinical trials, including one recent student to assess the use of CBD for dogs with epilepsy. In July, CSU reported the initial findings, which indicated that 89 percent of dogs that received CBD in the trial had a reduction in the frequency of seizures.

The future is bright for Colorado and other hemp-growing states. According to New Frontier Data, which recently acquired Hemp Business Journal, U.S. sales of hemp-based pet/animal CBD products totaled $8 million in 2017 and are projected to grow to $52 million by 2022.

One reason for Colorado’s emergence as a hemp-growing powerhouse is the simple certification process. According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture Division of Plant Industry, growers need to apply for a registration certificate that authorizes them to cultivate industrial hemp on a designated land area. There is no minimum or maximum acreage, and the application fee starts at $500. The business is subject to sampling to verify the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration within a registered land area does not exceed 0.3 percent on a dry-weight basis, because cannabis with a higher percentage is considered marijuana.

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Nora Caley

Nora Caley is a freelance writer specializing in business and food topics.

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