KUNM

Lawmakers Ponder Greenlighting Hemp Research

Feb 24, 2015

The state Department of Agriculture commissioned the Industrial Hemp Task Force to look into what legalizing industrial hemp would mean for New Mexico back in 2012.
Credit New Mexico Department of Agriculture

Legislation that would allow universities in New Mexico to cultivate industrial hemp for research purposes passed through committee Monday night. The bill could reach the Senate floor for a vote later this week.

The federal government made the distinction between hemp and marijuana official last year. Hemp contains virtually none of the mind-altering compound THC and is a highly versatile material.

Sen. Cisco McSorley has sponsored a bill he says could position New Mexico to be one of the leading producers of industrial hemp in the country.

“Once we develop the right seeds that are suited to the New Mexico climate and altitude,” the Democrat said, “the estimates that we have are hundreds of thousands of dollars in one year for a 10-acre plot.”

The plant can be used for everything from car cushions to food.

The Senate Finance Committee has to review the bill before it can advance.