Celine Gruenberg: Industrial Hemp in Colorado

two people walking through hemp field

Hemp has been cultivated for over 10,000 years worldwide and is currently used in over 25,000 products. While over 30 industrialized countries are currently growing this amazing plant the Unites States is only beginning to reintroduce hemp through pilot programs and production permits. In Colorado, a permit costs $500, and an additional $35 per acre fee and as well as the cost of testing the THC levels every two weeks and reporting them…this is a steep price to pay for a crop that has yet to be legalized federally.   I went to Colorado for three and a half weeks to meet with people who are producing and selling hemp products. I spent most of the trip with folks who are interested in the potential for industrial hemp as a marketability construction material and textile. At this point, I’ve interviewed fifteen different people ranging from conservative farmers to liberal activists. Currently, I’m in the midst of transcribing these interviews and organizing the information and insights.


beginning of the harvest–grows up to 12 feet tall

Two weeks ago I visited Eaton, Colorado and met with the directors of largest hemp farm in the United States, over 350 acres of industrial hemp cultivated for both research and market.  Not only were the vast fields impressive, but the people who were working to grow them were some of the kindest and most informative about their journey starting up and where they see the most potential.


I first became fascinated with hemp while traveling through Lai Chau and Ha Giang provinces in Northern Vietnam. I spent a month of my trip biking through these mountainous regions where I had the honor of meeting some Hmong women who taught me techniques in weaving, batiking, and dying hemp. The Black Hmong, a minority group best known for cultivating hemp, nearly lost their scared tradition two decades ago when cotton and synthetic dyes became readily available from Chinese factories. Though my initial interest was sparked from my time in Vietnam, this research in Colorado was a very different type of journey.