A report released in May showed that nationwide, retail sales for hemp products in 2015 reached $575 million, which was a more than 10 percent increase from the prior year.

Industrial hemp is not marijuana, not even close. That’s the first lesson hemp growers on the Western Slope want everyone to learn.

Though the two plants look identical, hemp doesn’t have anywhere near the psychotropic compounds as marijuana, but it does have a lot of other uses.

And they can be profitable: Clothing, food, coffee, perfume, candles, and even potential medications, just to name a few of its marketable uses.

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Charles Ashby ~ GJSentinel.com ~