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Hemp could soon bring millions of dollars to New Mexico’s economy

If new legislation is passed, a state representative told ABC-7 commercial hemp production could soon bring millions of dollars of revenue into New Mexico.

“This is a really great opportunity for New Mexico to get into the game,” said State Rep. Derrick Lente (D) from northwestern New Mexico, who is introducing the bill. “New Mexico is really poised to be a leader in this industry because of our climate.”

Last year, the federal government removed hemp from its Schedule I narcotic status under the 2018 Farm Bill. There is one condition: It must be grown with less than .3 percent of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).

By comparison, the average THC content in Marijuana was 9.6 percent in 2013, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Taking (hemp) off the narcotics list was a major barrier,” said Anthony Parra, the deputy director of the New Mexico Department of Agriculture. “It made it a concern for us a regulatory agency to have oversight of something that had substantially more significant ramifications than just corn or alfalfa.”

The Department of Agriculture will now be tasked with learning how to regulate the growth of the plant and ensure that hemp in New Mexico has less than .3 percent of THC.

“People are scared of having a ‘head high’ with our products,” said Miranda McAllister, who sells hemp oils and other products at Sacred Wellness in Las Cruces. “You do not have that. It’s pretty much driven out of that plant and it’s just for the medical purposes.”

Aside from medicinal oils, hemp can also be used to make paper, shoes and even fuel.

“Instead of importing a lot of stuff, we can begin growing it here on U.S. soil,” Rep. Lente said. “New Mexico is really poised to be a leader in this industry because of our climate.”

The state representative estimated that with 2,000 acres of production in 2019, New Mexico could see close to $40 million in revenue. He said the hemp industry could rival the alfalfa industry.

“We’re not wasting any time,” Rep. Lente said. “We want to capture this market.”

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