Commentary: Santa Fe, NM – Governor Susana Martinez (R-NM) has vetoed House Bill 144, which would have opened New Mexico to the job-creating and booming industrial hemp market. Sponsored by Representatives Bealquin “Bill” Gomez (D-La Mesa), Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Albuquerque), and Rick Little (R-Chaparral), HB 144 would have created a regulated hemp market in our state, allowing our farmers to expand into a rapidly expanding $600 million industry.
“With the stroke of her pen, the Governor just killed countless jobs and new economic opportunities in New Mexico,” said Rep. Maestas. “The hemp industry has been a booming success in at least thirty other states. This common sense job-creating legislation would have been a giant step forward for New Mexico's farmers and entrepreneurs. We must get our economy moving."
Grown in three harvestable components—fiber (stalk), grain, and floral material—hemp can be used in a variety of products, including cloth, paper, construction materials, carpet, foods and beverages, body care products, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and biofuel.
“Opening our state to the vast industrial hemp market would have created jobs in numerous industries, from cultivation to product development to marketing to manufacturing,” said Rep. Gomez. “Our farmers and agriculture sector have the most to lose by the Governor’s veto because hemp is a low-cost, low-effort crop that offers high rewards.”
Although hemp is the same species as marijuana, it contains little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive constituent in marijuana. Often referred to as a sustainable “wonder crop,” hemp is extremely versatile.
Recent economic estimates suggest the American market for industrial hemp is at least $600 million per year. Hemp requires minimal fertilizer or water to grow, making it perfect for New Mexico’s dry climate. It thrives just about anywhere, and is a low-cost, low-effort crop.
In 2014, the federal Farm Bill allowed states to grow hemp when partnering with their Departments of Agriculture or licensed universities. Since then, at least thirty states have passed laws creating hemp pilot studies and/or hemp production.
This is the second time that Governor Martinez has rejected legislation to open New Mexico to the hemp market. She vetoed a similar bill in 2015.