Proposal Aims To Make Hemp a Legal Crop

Proposal Aims To Make Hemp a Legal Crop
Posted by FoM on February 21, 2001 at 07:12:34 PT
By Mark Hummels, The New Mexican 
Source: Santa Fe New Mexican
Advocates of a bill (HB582) endorsed by a House committee Tuesday say it should be hemp, a cousin of the marijuana plant but without pot's psychoactive qualities.They say the weed can be made into paper, food, fuel, fiber, construction materials, bird seed, cattle feed, cosmetics and automotive parts - and might yield $10 million a year for farmers in New Mexico.
But their cultivation crusade could be stymied by an amendment tacked on to the bill by the House Agriculture and Water Resources Committee before it voted 5-3 to pass the measure on Tuesday.The amendment stipulates that licenses to grow hemp in New Mexico would be granted only in accordance with federal laws and regulations."I certainly don't want to support legislation that puts us at odds with the (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) and federal government," said Rep. Joe Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, who proposed the amendment.Federal law considers hemp the same as marijuana, an illegal drug.Yet Mike Weber, legislative director for the Delta-9 Coalition - an advocacy group for legalizing marijuana - said "very few people could survive" inhaling the amount of hemp smoke it would take to get a person stoned.A dozen people spoke in favor of legalizing hemp Tuesday. When nobody rose to speak in opposition, the hemp fans broke into applause, and one man with long hair and a full beard chanted "grow hemp, grow hemp."Some legislators appeared reluctant to support the measure because of the makeup of its supporters - a large contingent of pro-marijuana types, with little representation from agricultural interests."I have some concerns that we don't have any farmers here," said Rep. Andy Nuņez, D-Hatch, who is a farmer.Advocates, however, assured the committee that farmers would quickly embrace the new crop once their eyes were opened to its possibilities."I'd just like to say, we're ready to go," said Richard Storey, a Navajo Lake resident and representative of the New Mexico Industrial Hemp Growers Association.Rep. Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock, said the Navajo Nation Council has passed a resolution supporting hemp production, and the Navajo Nation's Shiprock Chapter is interested in starting a cultivation project.North Dakota passed a law in 1999 to legalize hemp, but the matter remains tied up in lawsuits against the federal government. Hemp is also legal in 31 countries.Note: New Mexico's next big cash crop?Source: Santa Fe New Mexican (NM)Author: Mark Hummels, The New Mexican Published: February 21, 2001Copyright: 2001 The Santa Fe New MexicanAddress: 202 E Marcy, Santa Fe, N.M. 87501Fax: (505) 986-3040Contact: letters sfnewmexican.comWebsite: Hemp Archives
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