New Mexico Bill Would Legalize Industrial Hemp Farming

A bill set for introduction in the New Mexico state senate during 2015 would authorize the farming, production, and sale of industrial hemp in the state, effectively rejecting the federal prohibition on the same once put into effect.

Senate Bill 94 (SB94) was prefiled on Dec. 15 by State Senator Cisco McSorley (D-Bernalillo) and would open up the industrial hemp market in New Mexico if successfully passed.

SB94 would “establish policy and procedures for growing industrial hemp in New Mexico so that farmers and other businesses in the New Mexico agricultural industry can take advantage of this market opportunity.” Under the bill, New Mexico residents could be licensed by the state department of agriculture to produce and distribute the burgeoning cash crop. If SB94 passes through the legislature and is signed by Gov. Martinez, the bill would become law as of July 1, 2015.

New Mexico has the opportunity to join five other states – Colorado, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont – that have already passed similar measures. Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, effectively blocking federal restrictions on such agricultural activities.

Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $500 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, “Hemp for Victory!”.

But, since the enactment of the unconstitutional federal controlled-substances act in 1970, the Drug Enforcement Agency has prevented the production of hemp within the United States. Many hemp supporters feel that the DEA has been used as an “attack dog” of sorts to prevent competition with major industries where American-grown hemp products would create serious market competition: Cotton, Paper/Lumber, Oil, and others.

Earlier in 2014, , President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The new “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

SB94 goes a step further than what is currently ‘allowed’ by the feds by authorizing industrial development of the hemp plant. This is an essential first step forward. Similar to the way federal marijuana prohibition has been rejected because of massive state action, states defying the federal industrial hemp ban can unleash a tidal wave of resistance that forces the feds to get their priorities in order.

ACTION ITEMS

For New Mexico: Call up your state senator and urge them to co-sponsor and SB94. Then, call up your state representative and urge them to introduce similar legislation in their chamber. You can find their contact information HERE.

For All Other States: Take action in your state to push legislators to introduce and support bills to legalize hemp farming by clicking HERE.