Hemp licenses in New Mexico dropped from more than 400 in 2019 to 276 this year – a 31 percent decrease – amid new state rules, the coronavirus pandemic, and industry consolidation, the Albuquerque Journal reports. Last year was the first year the state issued commercial hemp cultivation licenses.
State Agriculture Secretary Jeff Witte told the Journal that officials chalk the decrease up to “those who tried it and decided it wasn’t for them.”
Ricardo Berroteran, lead cultivator for Rich Global Hemp, indicated that the pandemic had decreased demand. He said he had planned to grow up to 10 million clones this year but ended up growing about 10,000 due to the lack of demand.
Duke Rodriguez, founder of Ultra Health, one of the petitioners challenging the rules, said cannabis companies growing both hemp and medical cannabis needed to choose one or the other. The rules, Rodriguez said, brought the company’s hemp production “to a complete standstill.”
Last year, the New Mexico Economic Development Department made three investments into the state’s hemp industry, including $200,000 in 420 Valley LLC, a Las Cruces-based hemp productions and processing plant, $2 million to Rich Global Hemp, and $250,000 to New Mexico Hemp Services, a Santa Rosa-based industry job training business.