A bill that would allow the growth of industrial hemp for research purposes passed unanimously through a House committee on Wednesday morning. The House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee committee, made up of mostly Republicans and moderate Democrats, heard Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, present his case for SB 94. The bill would allow New Mexico State University and the state Department of Agriculture to study the viability and logistics of growing industrial hemp. Republican members voiced their reluctance to vote for the bill. McSorley told the committee that it his bill is important to New Mexico and the agricultural industry in order to stay competitive in many markets.
A bill that would allow the growth of hemp for research and development purposes cleared the Senate on Monday afternoon. The legislation would allow researchers, most likely at New Mexico State University, to grow hemp for research purposes. The legislation would also provide for the commercial growth of hemp if it is deemed legal by the federal government. Hemp was previously outlawed on a federal level for all uses, but the most recent federal farm bill allowed the growth of hemp for research purposes. Much of the debate was spent on a floor amendment by Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, who said that the bill should not anticipate the federal legalization of commercial growth of hemp.
A bill that would allow hemp to be grown for research and development purposes navigated its third committee and is now headed to the Senate floor. The legislation—sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque—passed easily on Thursday afternoon. The lone vote against passage was the only vote against passage so far in the process. The legislation was made possible by a provision in the federal Farm Bill that allows hemp to be grown for research and development purposes. This is what helped the legislation pass so easily according to McSorley.