Mark Seymour

Bills Passed to Expand MMJ, Legalize Industrial Hemp in New Mexico

Two bills have moved their way through separate houses of the New Mexico Legislature that would expand the state’s medical cannabis program, and exempt industrial hemp from New Mexico’s Controlled Substance Act.

The medical cannabis proposal, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Cisco McSorley, was approved by the Senate 29-11but only after an amendment was filed removing a provision which would have allowed all military veterans access to the program regardless of their medical conditions. Opponents argued that the language would have, in essence, legalized recreational cannabis use for veterans.

If approved by the House of Representatives and signed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, the measure would allow patients to possess up to 5 ounces of cannabis during a 30-day period, up from three, and allow licensed producers to possess up to 1,000 cannabis plants during a three-month period. The measure would also add “opiate use disorder” to the qualifying conditions list, allowing people undergoing addiction treatment to access the program.

McSorley, who sponsored the medical cannabis legislation enacted in the state in 2007, explained that while the initial bill “had numerous checks and balances” it has “become somewhat outdated” over the last decade.

“This is the first amendment we’ve done in 10 years to the medical cannabis program,” he said in a Santa Fe New Mexican report. “And there’s one thing this bill does. It helps the patients.”

The industrial hemp bill, sponsored by Republican Rep. Ricky Little, would allow farmers to cultivate industrial hemp in the state without a special license. Industrial hemp is defined under the 2014 federal Farm Bill as a plant from the cannabis genus that contains less than .3 percent THC. Under the Farm Bill, states are allowed to enact pilot programs, but it does not allow full-scale cultivation. According to the New Mexican report, Gov. Martinez vetoed legislation in 2015 that would have created a hemp pilot program in the state.

The medical cannabis expansion bill has been moved to the House but has not yet been moved to a committee. The industrial hemp bill has been sent to the Senate but not yet to a committee.

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