FORT COLLINS - Several companies in Northern Colorado and the Boulder Valley have registered to grow hemp, a variety of the cannabis plant that can be refined into textiles, biofuel, paper and other products.

Since Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 in November, growing hemp became legal along with the retail sale and possession of small amounts of marijuana. Producers began registering with the state earlier this month to grow hemp, though federal law still bars commercial growth.

"I think it's a really interesting crop," said Tom Smith of Fort Collins-based Summit Plant Laboratories Inc., which registered with the state of Colorado to grow the plant. "I think there's a lot potential for it, for Colorado agriculture."

Morris Beegle, owner of Colorado Hemp Co. in Loveland and organizer of the NoCo Hemp Expo 2014, said he welcomes the birth of Colorado's hemp industry. He is confident that federal barriers to raising the crop will be addressed.

"Everything's in motion now and there's really no turning back," he said. "It's going to be a great alternative crop for farmers to start mixing in their rotation."

The hemp expo takes place April 5 at Ricky B's Sports Pub in Windsor.

The following are businesses and people who have registered to grow hemp, according to the Colorado Department of Agriculture:

>Centennial State Distributors LLC, Lafayette
>Mile High Hemp LLC, Brighton
>Global Heritage Seed Co. LLC, Boulder
>Summit Plant Laboratories Inc., Fort Collins
>American Hemp Enterprises Ltd., Del Norte
>B&W Enterprises LLC, doing business as Hemp Farms of Colorado, Berthoud
>New West Genetics LLC, Fort Collins
>Pueblo Farms LLC, Littleton
>Joel & Jared Stanley, unknown location
>Grow Hemp Colorado, unknown location
>Jeanette VanDenBerg, unknown location

State regulators have said they will conduct random tests on hemp fields to ensure they contain lower levels of the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.

Producers must register with the agricultural department by May 1 if they would like to grow industrial hemp during the 2014 growing season.

The annual registration fee for commercial production of industrial hemp is $200 plus $1 per acre. For research and development, the annual registration fee for production of hemp is $100 plus $5 per acre. All registrations will be valid for one year from date of issuance.