Pubdate: Thu, 03 Dec 2015
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2015 the Associated Press
Author: Russell Contreras, the Associated Press


Governor Vetoed Prior Measure to Legalize Crop, Cited Federal Law

(AP) - A Democratic New Mexico senator wants the state Department of 
Agriculture to adopt rules for researching and growing an industrial 
version of marijuana's non-intoxicating cousin.

Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, introduced legislation Wednesday 
that could create the opportunity for farmers to grow hemp after a state study.

McSorley last year sponsored a bill aimed at legalizing the selling 
of hemp and licensing of farmers to grow the crop. That proposal 
would have established fees and set up state regulations for the 
distribution of hemp.

Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, vetoed a version of McSorley's 
bill, saying the measure was inconsistent with federal law.

McSorley said he then made changes to the bill to address the 
governor's concerns and recently wrote her a letter for her comments on it.

"China and India are growing hemp," McSorley said, referring to it as 
a "great low-water crop."

"The farmers (in New Mexico) are losing out," he said.

The Governor's Office has not said whether Martinez supports the new proposal.

Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that 
gives marijuana users a high. Many products made from hemp, such as 
oils and clothing, are legal. But some law enforcement agencies have 
said marijuana growers could camouflage their illegal crops with hemp plants.

The 2014 federal Farm Bill included a provision that allows colleges, 
universities and state agriculture departments to cultivate industrial hemp.

More than two dozen states have passed measures that allow hemp 
cultivation or a study of the possibility. Proposals have generated 
bipartisan support.

In New Mexico, farming groups have supported the legislation because 
of a previous drought in the state and hemp's potential as a cash 
crop. Hemp is drought-resistant.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom