New Mexico: Amber waves of hemp?
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Let’s talk hemp.
But first, let’s dispense with all the Cheech and Chong jokes and I promise this post will not include any lame puns about pot or weed or getting the munchies, etc.
Let’s get the facts out first:
The hemp fiber is used to make things like rope, clothing, textiles, lotions and even construction materials such as strengtheners for concrete. Some energy bars include hemp seeds because the seeds are rich in Omega 3s, 6s and 9s.
In countries like Canada, the Ukriane and France, farmers and ranchers grow industrial hemp as a cash crop because
A) it’s easy to grow
B) it doesn’t cost much to maintain or water, and
C) it’s profitable.
For example, in 2008 Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps sold $29 million in hemp-related products.
Okay, but what does this have to do with New Mexico?
Well, state Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-Albuquerque) would like to see the state pass a bill allowing the production of industrial hemp. He thinks it could help farmers and ranchers, who are struggling in the current economy. After all, New Mexico has plenty of land and its climate may be conducive to the growing of hemp because the fiber does not need much water.
I spoke to him a few weeks ago about it:
There is one significant hurdle to overcome though:
The US government outlawed industrial hemp because the fiber comes from that pesky cannabis plant that produces marijuana. Hemp, like pot, contains THC – the chemical compound that makes you high. McSorley told me that the THC content in marijuana is 23 while the THC content in hemp is .01 percent, which means the narcotic effect of hemp is miniscule.
US House of Representatives member Ron Paul (R-Texas) introduced a bill last year (HR-1866) but it got nowhere. “Members of Congress don’t really care about it,” Paul told CNBC at the time. “They (think), ‘If you vote for hemp, you vote for marijuana. If you vote for marijuana, you vote for hard drugs. And then you’re pro drug.”
On the New Mexico level, perhaps McSorley can make more headway if he can find a rural lawmaker who would be willing to join him as a co-sponsor.