Going into its fourth harvest, industrial hemp industry still facing growing pains

The first hint that Damian Farris isn’t your typical farmer is the nickname of his mud-splattered white pickup truck: “Smoked Tofu.”

Four years ago he was a hippie with no farming experience and a passion for weed. Now he’s the co-founder of Colorado Cultivars, the self-proclaimed country’s largest hemp farm, just east of Eaton. The marijuana dispensary owner turned industrial hemp grower navigates the farm’s sprawling fields like an old pro.

Since 2014, when the U.S. Farm Bill legalized the growth of industrial hemp in states that regulated the crop, Farris has been part of a rapidly growing industry in Colorado that is bringing farmers and cannabis enthusiasts into business together.

“The first year, people thought we were growing drugs,” Farris said from behind Smoked Tofu’s wheel. “Now farmers are approaching us and asking how they can use hemp in their crop rotation. It’s a big turnaround.”

Hemp doesn’t look like your typical cash crop — it’s less…

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