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NM Hemp Farmers Breathe Easier with Fed'l. Legalization

Hemp cultivation, which will soon be legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, was once abundantly grown across the U.S until its production was outlawed in 1937. (ksjd.org)
Hemp cultivation, which will soon be legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, was once abundantly grown across the U.S until its production was outlawed in 1937. (ksjd.org)
December 14, 2018

TRUCHAS, N.M. – Farmers who want to grow hemp in New Mexico no longer have to worry that they're breaking federal laws. The 2018 Farm Bill agreed on in Congress this week would legalize hemp production nationwide.

Growing industrial hemp in New Mexico became legal this year after the state Supreme Court overturned a bill vetoed by Governor Susana Martinez on procedural grounds. But many farmers found it too risky with federal prohibitions still in place.

Jerry Fuentes, a farmer and volunteer for the New Mexico Industrial Hemp Coalition, has been a leader in getting hemp legalized in New Mexico for nearly 20 years. He says farmers can finally look forward to growing it without being punished.

"And we're looking at forming some cooperatives around in New Mexico to grow hemp, 100 acre cooperatives; small farmers is who we're trying to organize,” says Fuentes. “There's a whole lot of industry to be created now."

Hemp can be used for rope, clothing, biofuels, and the substance known as cannabidiol or CBD, which is often sold as a health product.

By putting hemp into annual crop rotation, Fuentes says New Mexico can now compete with other states where it has been grown for decades.

"The biggest issue facing farmers right now was the banking issue, of being able to bank your money or even being able to get a loan to be able to grow industrial hemp,” says Fuentes.

With his work completed on hemp legalization, Fuentes says he'll be back at the upcoming session of the New Mexico Legislature to advocate for legalizing marijuana, which he says could generate $60 to $70 million of new state tax revenue.


Roz Brown, Public News Service - NM