Amendment X proposes amending the Colorado Constitution to remove the definition of “industrial hemp” from the Colorado Constitution, and instead use the definition in federal law or state statute.

In the event that federal law changes, Colorado would maintain compliance with federal regulation.

Amendment X was referred to voters by the state legislature. It had support from a bipartisan group of state senators and representatives.

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Passage of Amendment 64 legalized the use of recreational marijuana in Colorado. Amendment 64 added a definition of industrial hemp to the Colorado Constitution. Because the definition is contained in the Constitution, the meaning can only be amended by voters by the initiative process, which can be tedious and lengthy.

State legislators who support giving the legislature, and not the constitution, the authority to define industrial hemp under state statute or federal law, say doing so allows greater flexibility to amend the definition of hemp, as attitudes and mores change.

The constitutional definition is dense legalese that pertains the concentration of THC in industrial hemp. Here’s a snapshot of the constitution’s definition: "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.”

The Legislative Council’s ballot analysis of Amendment X offers a good explainer.

What is industrial hemp?

Industrial hemp (commonly referred to as “hemp”) is an agricultural commodity that belongs to the cannabis family. Industrial hemp has only trace amounts of the psychoactive component of marijuana (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol or THC), typically around 0.3 percent. By contrast, most marijuana strains sold in Colorado range between 8 percent and 30 percent THC. Industrial hemp’s applications include building material, food, fuel, medicine, paper, plastic substitute, rope and textiles.

Industrial hemp and federal law

Under current federal law, all cannabis varieties, including industrial hemp, are classified as controlled substances regulated by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency in the U.S. Department of Justice. The U.S. Congress currently has legislation pending regarding industrial hemp.

Argument For

Colorado is the leading producer of industrial hemp in the country and the only state with a definition of industrial hemp in its constitution. Striking this definition will allow Colorado’s hemp industry to remain competitive with other states as the regulatory landscape evolves for this crop.

Argument Against

Colorado voters added the definition of industrial hemp to the Colorado Constitution through the initiative process. The measure may deviate from the voter’s original intent.

Estimate of Fiscal Impact

Removing the definition of industrial hemp from the Colorado Constitution has no impact on the revenue or expenditures of any state or local government agencies.

Registered Issue Committees

Amendment X has one registered issue committee, in opposition. It is Vote No on Amendment X (Keep Hemp Legal). There is a not a registered issue committee in favor.