Colorado hemp is growing tall in this Boulder County research plot in 2014. (Elana Ashanti Jefferson, Cannabist file)

Drone mission to find feral hemp seeds in southern Colorado called off

CORTEZ — Local hemp advocates floated the idea to hunt for feral cannabis seeds across the Four Corners via drone aircraft, but the measure was quickly grounded.

The idea took flight this month after James McVaney, director of Industrial Hemp in Colorado, notified local hemp activists that feral cannabis was known to grow locally.

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He provided two online maps, including one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“According to this U.S. government map, there is feral hemp growing in you all’s area,” McVaney posted on the Hemp Talks Facebook page Oct. 1.

A second map from that McVaney later shared “explicitly shows that there is feral hemp in the Four Corners area,” he posted to the social media group.

McVaney relayed that a drone would be the easiest and quickest method to locate potential seed sources.

Sharon Stewart, who organized the local Hemp Talks advocacy group, said she inquired about renting a drone aircraft to search for feral cannabis along riverbanks and gullies.

The effort was called off last week after it was determined it presented too many liabilities. Stewart said local advocates were now focused on obtaining global infrared imagery to possibly revisit the idea next fall.

“We simply didn’t have enough time to locate a drone and plan a search this year,” Stewart said.

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