Freshly harvested hemp seeds (Provided by Grow Hemp Colorado)

Celebrating milestone for hemp growers in Boulder

Hemp seedlings
Hemp seedlings (Provided by Grow Hemp Colorado)

When you’re a Colorado native born on April 20th like Veronica Carpio, a cannabis career seems practically predestined.

The Lafayette businesswoman, 35, ran a mountain-town medical marijuana dispensary (now closed) and still operates a patient-care collective. After shuttering her dispensaries, Carpio decided to open a tea room. (That’s not pot slang, just a place to sip good ol’ leaf-steeped hot drinks.) That led her to experiment with hemp-infused coffee beans, and create her popular Happy Heart Hemp Coffee and Colorado Hemp Coffee offerings.

As one of Colorado’s first licensed distributors of hemp seed, Carpio now spends her days promoting what she says are myriad business opportunities open to entrepreneurs interested in working with non-THC, industrial hemp — the botanical cousin of cannabis that is not mind-altering.

March 1 marks the first day the Colorado Department of Agriculture will begin licensing industrial hemp producers. Carpio’s organization, Grow Hemp Colorado, will mark the day with its second Boulder County Hemp Meeting (full details below).

Grow Hemp Colorado also will be involved with the NoCo Hemp Expo on April 5 at Ricky B’s Sports Bar and Music Venue in Windsor.

Here, Carpio talks about her outlook for industrial hemp:

What sparked your interest in hemp?

I’m in Boulder County, so I’m one of those weird, healthy-hippie types. I also have a teenager and was always trying to find ways to trick him to eat healthy.

The full hemp seed has insoluble fiber, which helps our intestinal system, and hemp is really healthy for the heart because of its Omega-3 fatty acids. Two tablespoons of hemp seed in my tacos for dinner one evening ensures my child and I get some proper nutrients. I started experimenting with hemp seed recipes … hemp ice tea and bread and pulled pork.

Did you hit the sweet spot with hemp-infused coffee?

It’s been an interesting journey with hemp coffee. I do all of that (coffee bean infusion) by hand. It’s all handmade. I’ve had tons of online orders, and I’m about to be at Vitamin Cottage. I’m really focused now on making hemp ice tea.

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What’s the biggest misconception about hemp?

People think marijuana is hemp, but clearly they are not the same. You will not get high from hemp products.

The passage of Amendment 64 in Colorado opened the door to both cannabis and industrial hemp cultivation. But just like cannabis, hemp seed cultivation remains against federal law?

Hemp seeds that are viable are completely illegal to import into the state. Only non-growing hemp seed had been imported up until this point. … I get so many calls every day from people who want to talk about having their own hemp meetings or figure out processing potential. Or from people who want us to send them our seeds, or offer their land for co-op opportunities. I get questions from publishers wanting hemp paper. The thing I keep telling everybody is, we cannot move forward (with hemp) if we do not have anything ready on the ground. I need participants to clone and plant hemp. We have the best growers in Colorado but we cannot fully use what we have right now.

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What else do you think hemp enthusiasts should know?

March 1st is the first official day that the Colorado Department of Agriculture will accept industrial hemp licensing applications. I believe Colorado can have a real, sustainable hemp industry. My goal is to inform people of what seems to be happening here in Colorado.

About the Boulder County Hemp Meeting

The $10 event runs from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Canyon Theater inside the Boulder County Public Library downtown branch, 1001 Arapahoe Ave. in Boulder.

It will include an expert panel discussion, goodie bags and hemp treats. Hemp seed and plants will be available for purchase.