New Mexico: Progress on Cannabis & Hemp Bills

14 February 2017

KRQE reports

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Revisions to New Mexico’s medical marijuana program are advancing in the New Mexico Legislature that would make room for larger crops to satisfy demand and broaden the use of cannabis as a treatment for dependence on other drugs.

The New Mexico state Senate approved revisions Monday to the state’s 2007 medical cannabis law sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives.

It would add to the current law 14 medical conditions that qualify for a treatment with marijuana and already have been reviewed by regulators, including patients diagnosed with substance use disorders without specifying what addictions are covered.



And the  Santa Fe New Mexican Reports

New Mexico Senate again endorses hemp research

The New Mexico Senate, in a bipartisan 37-2 vote, approved a bill Tuesday that would make it legal to cultivate hemp so researchers can study its industrial uses.

The legislation goes now to the House of Representatives, where other industrial hemp bills are being considered.

Senate Bill 6, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, is identical to his hemp bill that cleared the Legislature two years ago but was vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez. In her veto message, Martinez said it could be confusing for law enforcement because the fibrous plant is basically the same plant as marijuana but with a much lower level of the intoxicant THC.

McSorley on Tuesday repeated his message that his proposal is a business bill. “Industrial hemp research begins the process of bringing needed manufacturing and agricultural jobs to our state,” he said.

His bill would authorize the state Department of Agriculture to issue licenses to grow the plant for research and development. The proposal would require New Mexico State University to establish a fund using fees collected by the department. The money would not revert to any other fund at the end of a fiscal year.

McSorley said the Department of Agriculture and the university would be responsible for setting up regulations governing production of hemp by farmers.

More than 30 other states have approved similar legislation. In Tuesday’s debate, McSorley said Kentucky already has a robust hemp industry. Two of the biggest supporters of industrial hemp on the national level are Kentucky’s two Republican U.S. senators, GOP Leader Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul.

Colorado produces more than half of the industrial hemp in the United States.

Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature have characterized establishing an industrial hemp program as part of their package on jobs and economic development.

The two state senators voting against the bill were Senate Republican Leader Stuart Ingle of Portales and Sen. Carroll Leavell, R-Jal. Ingle, a farmer, said he doesn’t believe the economic benefits touted by hemp advocates would come to fruition until processing plants are built in the state.

McSorley said, “We’ll never have processing if we don’t pass this bill.”

The House Labor and Economic Development Committee on Wednesday is scheduled to hear two hemp bills, House Bill 144, sponsored by Rep. Bill Gomez, D-Las Cruces, and House Bill 154, sponsored by Rep. Rick Little, R-Chaparral. Gomez’s bill is identical to McSorley’s, and Little’s is similar. Both bills recently received positive recommendations from the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee.

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