I am pleased that my bill, Senate Bill 94 (SB 94), designed to help New Mexico lay the foundation for hemp industrialization, has passed the Senate and the first committee in the House of Representatives.
The U.S. Congress recently legalized hemp for research purposes in last year’s agricultural bill. SB 94 creates the New Mexico Industrial Hemp Research and Development Fund for the agricultural, agronomical, ecological, processing, sales and marketing research purposes of hemp growth. The research will be carried out by New Mexico State University (NMSU) and research funds will be collected by the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA).
Once the Federal Government fully legalizes hemp growth for all purposes, NMDA will already have established rules for hemp farming in the state, including requirements for licensure, training of law enforcement personnel, inspection, record keeping, and fees.
It should be noted that hemp is different from marijuana in that most of the psychoactive elements in marijuana are not contained in hemp, therefore rendering it harmless as a recreational drug.
The benefits that New Mexico would reap from the hemp industry are tremendous. Not only would our agricultural industry get a healthy boost, but it would also open up the doors to an industrial vitalization New Mexico desperately needs. New Mexicans are ready to work and this bill creates jobs.
There are several types of hemp that do very well in dry climates. As many New Mexicans are aware, our state does not have water to spare; New Mexico provides perfect growing conditions for dry-land hemp, which uses only about half as much water as alfalfa. Additionally, this crop does not require herbicides; can be used to restore depleted soil; and special machinery is not needed to harvest hemp.
Farmers will immediately and directly benefit through profitable use of their land, while expanding their operations to provide jobs for additional farm hands.
This low-maintenance, non-psychoactive cannabis varietal plant can be used to make fibers, paper, building materials, oils, bedding, food products and even livestock feed, amongst other uses. As farms produce this cash crop, industry will grow in New Mexico, creating even more jobs for New Mexicans who are ready to work.
A 2013 report by the Congressional Research Service estimated that the United States (U.S.) spent $11.5 million in 2011 on hemp imports. Introducing the hemp industry to New Mexico not only allows for our state to get in on a piece of the pie, but also keeps dollars here.
New Mexicans are ready for progressive ideas and economic stimulus. Senate Democrats have a jobs package designed to create thousands of jobs in our state. This hemp bill is a part of that package and will put New Mexico at the forefront of the hemp industry in the U.S. Our state must continue to take steps like this to construct a vital and healthy economy.
I’m excited to be a part of New Mexico’s progress. I hope New Mexicans will continue to take an active part in our legislature and support this bill.