Farmers in New Mexico may be able to add a new cash crop to their cultivation options as early as July 2015, thanks to state senator Cisco McSorely (D-Bernalillo).
Senator McSorely is keen on allowing farmers in his state to produce hemp on an industrial level. In December 2014, he pre-filed SB94, the “Industrial Hemp Farming Act,” so that it will be ready and waiting when the general assembly reconvenes in 2015.
Hemp can be used as a nutritional food source, to make both consumer and industrial textiles, building materials, paper and much more. It used to be widely grown in the United States, but cultivating it was also banned Under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 when it was lumped into the same category as marijuana.
McSorely’s bill will establish policies to regulate the licensing, growing, processing, sales and distribution of industrial hemp in New Mexico. SB94 also includes provisions for educational institutions and state departments of agriculture to take advantage of the hemp market
Laws have already been passed in 19 states, including California, Colorado and Kentucky, establishing pilot programs for research and production of marijuana’s “non-intoxicating cousin,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Legalizing hemp cultivation and sale will not only expand farming, and therefore revenue, options in the Land of Enchantment, but it will also be beneficial to the soil and environment. Hemp is known to be an ideal rotation crop because it cleans the soil and adds much needed nutrients, like nitrogen, back into the ground. This means that allowing farmers to grow hemp will also produce more nutrient dense soil in which to grow other crops. This is a win-win situation for New Mexico.
Governor Susana Martinez has reported that while she does not support the legalization of marijuana, she does support the legalization of industrial hemp, so she will most likely sign this bill into law if it makes it to her desk.
photo credit: hemptraders.com