Governor Martinez vetoed Senate Bill 94 sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-16-Bernalillo) within the timeframe allotted for approving bills sent to her desk. This legislation would have legalized the research of the hemp plant and, when allowed by federal law, would enable New Mexico’s Dept. of Agriculture to license hemp cultivation and processing.
SB 94, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, would have provided the statutory framework to permit growing of hemp. The bill named the Dept. of Agriculture as the agency responsible for regulation and gave the department the authority to promulgate hemp cultivation licensing rules when the regulations on the federal change.
SB 94 was supported by super majorities of legislators in both the House (54-12) and the Senate (33-8). Support beyond the Roundhouse doors is equally as strong and diverse, crossing political lines, trades, and entire industries.
“By vetoing the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, Governor Martinez has chosen to ignore the will of a super majority of state lawmakers and has done a disservice to the state,” said Jessica Gelay, policy coordinator with the New Mexico office of the Drug Policy Alliance. “It’s a shame that New Mexico is not joining the twenty-two other states -including very conservative states like Utah, Kentucky and Tennessee- that have enacted legislation to legalize industrial hemp for research and development or commercial cultivation.”
Hemp products are already legal in the United States, but only if the hemp is imported from the more than 30 countries that legally grow it. In 2014 U.S. consumers purchased more than $640 million dollars’ worth of hemp products, representing market growth of 3% since 2014Although hemp is made from a non-psychoactive variety of the marijuana plant, the federal government irrationally prohibits it based on unfounded drug war hysteria.
Hemp is a durable natural fiber, a nutritious food product for humans and pets, a superior building material, and has thousands of other known uses. A hemp crop needs half the water alfalfa uses, is a great rotation crop to use after legumes that fix nitrogen in the soil and it can be grown without heavy use of pesticides.
“New Mexicans across the political spectrum are ready for hemp to be an option for the agricultural sector and to improve our economy,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance. “The Governor missed an important opportunity to support New Mexico’s farmers and small business owners.”
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.