Colorado farmer Ryan Loflin harvests hemp plants on his farm in Springfield, Colo., in October 2013. At the time, the crop was still illegal to grow outdoors. In March 2014, the Colorado Department of Agriculture began licensing industrial hemp producers. (P. Solomon Banda, Associated Press file)

Colorado “hempies” celebrating harvest time

Hemp farmers and activists commemorate hemp's historic return with happenings across the state.

Ryan Loflin is beginning to see more than the fruits of his physical labor on behalf of hemp.

The Colorado farmer and entrepreneur says he can now envision a future in which industrial hemp once again contributes to this country’s economic vitality.

A year ago at his 1,200-acre Loflin Farms in Springfield, Colo., where the dominant crops are alfalfa and sorghum, roughly 40 volunteers helped the family-run agricultural operation harvest a 60-acre (illegal) hemp crop. Hemp activists and enthusiasts pointed to the event as the country’s first successful outdoor industrial hemp harvest (by someone other than an American Indian) since the 1950s.

“People came from six different states last year,” Loflin recalls. “It was impressive to see their dedication to this issue.”

In his mind, the push to reestablish the American hemp industry crosses social and political lines.

“This is about job creation and (returning) America to its once powerful position,” Loflin says. “I personally think the nation began to go downhill when they made hemp illegal.”


Red, white and hemp Americana: Five pivotal moments in U.S. history


Now Loflin and other like-minded Colorado farmers are basking in the glow of state-sanctioned cannabis.

“This year we are completely legal and I was able to certify my seed cultivars” with the Colorado Department of Agriculture, says Loflin. That means that representatives from the state tested Loflin’s plants and confirmed that their tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content is low enough for the crop to be labeled industrial hemp rather than mind-altering marijuana.

“It’s the culmination of a few years of work,” says Loflin, who also runs a research, development and retail business called Rocky Mountain Hemp.

Loflin Farms, which has been in Ryan’s family for 75 years, will mark his harvest this weekend with a work-hard/play-hard approach to taking down the plants. He expects more than 100 volunteers to show up, camp and help out with the work.

Loflin also will be celebrating his 42nd birthday. So he hired a band and will provide the barbecue.

Although the Loflin Farms event is private, “hempies” also plan to celebrate the harvest of hemp in Colorado with two other upcoming events open to the public, including one in which Loflin will receive an award from his peers for “Most Acres Planted and Harvested.”


All things Hemp: Reviews for products utilizing versatile hemp — foods, clothing, crafts, health & beauty, pet gear


Hemp events on tap

Colorado Hemp Project Harvest Party. Live music, a farmers market, speakers and giveaways. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 28 in Sterling. Tickets are $10, more information available at hempharvestparty.com

Colorado Industrial Hemp Awards & Festival 2014. This two-day event includes hemp seeds and products, demonstrations, hempcrete workshops and ceremonies honoring about two dozen peer-selected hemp industry leaders. This event also is being marketed as a fundraiser for the hemp production initiatives pioneered by the Oglala Sioux Tribe on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 4-5, private Boulder County farm. Tickets, $15-$50, and information are available at growhempcolorado.com.