New Mexico Committee Passes Bill To Decriminalize Industrial Hemp

By Mike Maharrey

A bill working its way through the New Mexico House that would remove the state ban on industrial hemp has already cleared its first committee hurdle. Passage into law would set the stage to nullify federal prohibition on the plant in practice.

Rep. Rick Little (R-Chaparral) introduced House Bill 166 (HB166) on Jan 18. The legislation would simply remove industrial hemp from the state’s list of controlled substances. This would open the door for a full-scale commercial hemp market in the state by treating it like any other crop for farming.

HB166 would not require any license to grow hemp, and it would create no state regulatory structure. This would have a similar effect as a bill passed in Connecticut in 2015. In short, the state would treat industrial hemp like other plants, such as tomatoes. By ending state prohibition, residents in New Mexico would have an open door to start industrial hemp farming should they be willing to risk violating ongoing federal prohibition.

On Tuesday, the House Agriculture, Water & Wildlife Committee submitted a report that it has approved the measure with a 7-1 vote.

Last fall, the Navajo Tribe has signed a resolution to grow industrial hemp on tribal lands. Legalization of industrial hemp in New Mexico would help facilitate tribal plans. They can proceed with or without state legalization, but eliminating a layer of state laws would certainly make the path toward developing a hemp economy smoother.


Early in 2014, President Barack Obama signed a new farm bill into law, which included a provision allowing a handful of states to begin limited research programs growing hemp. The “hemp amendment”

…allows State Agriculture Departments, colleges and universities to grow hemp, defined as the non-drug oil-seed and fiber varieties of Cannabis, for academic or agricultural research purposes, but it applies only to states where industrial hemp farming is already legal under state law.

In short, current federal law authorizes the farming of hemp – by research institutions only, for research only. Farming for commercial purposes by individuals and businesses remains prohibited. HB166 simply ignores federal prohibition and authorizes commercial farming and production in New Mexico anyway.


By rejecting any need for federal approval, state legalization of hemp sets the stage to nullify the federal hemp ban in practice. New Mexico could join other states – including Colorado, Oregon, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, California and others – that have simply ignored federal prohibition and legalized industrial hemp production within their state borders.

While prospective hemp growers still have to take federal law into consideration, by eliminating the state requirement for federal permission, these laws clear away a major obstacle to widespread commercial hemp farming within the borders of the state. As more states simply ignore federal prohibition, the likelihood of federal enforcement diminishes.

Farmers in SE Colorado started harvesting the plant in 2013, and farmers in Vermont began harvesting in 2014, effectively nullifying federal restrictions on such agricultural activities. On Feb. 2 of 2015, the Oregon hemp industry officially opened for business and one week later, the first license went to a small non-profit group. As more people engage in hemp production and the market grows within these states, more people will become emboldened creating an exponential wave, ultimately nullifying the federal ban in effect.


According to a 2005 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. is the only developed nation that hasn’t developed an industrial hemp crop for economic purposes.

Experts suggest that the U.S. market for hemp is around $600 million per year. They count as many as 25,000 uses for industrial hemp, including food, cosmetics, plastics and bio-fuel. The U.S. is currently the world’s #1 importer of hemp fiber for various products, with China and Canada acting as the top two exporters in the world.

During World War II, the United States military relied heavily on hemp products, which resulted in the famous campaign and government-produced film, Hemp for Victory!.

HB166 would represent an essential first step toward hemp freedom in New Mexico.

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After passage by the Agriculture, Water & Wildlife Committee, HB166 was referred to the House Labor & Economic Development Committee. It must pass by a majority vote before moving on in the legislative process.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center, where this article first appeared. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at and like him on Facebook HERE

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3 Comments on "New Mexico Committee Passes Bill To Decriminalize Industrial Hemp"

  1. straight shooter | February 3, 2017 at 11:50 am | Reply

    A badly needed step in the right direction.

  2. Perhaps the New Mexico state police will stop searching folks from Colorado now.
    Hemp will revitalize the country.
    I use hemp shampoo and soap.
    The entire cannibis scam was a way for the ‘elite’ to keep a steady stream of money.
    The CIA flew drugs into Mena, Arkansas after giving U.S. tax funded guns to the likes of Noreiga and others.
    Bush senior was the director at the time.
    THC is in love with our DNA.
    Come to Colorado and imbibe.

  3. Average Joe American | February 5, 2017 at 7:17 pm | Reply

    If New Mexico were to follow Colorado’s example they would experience a real estate boom the likes of which has not been seen since the gold and silver mining days. Hundreds of thousands of Baby Boomer retirees from northern cities, sick of the snow and the overcrowding, would come down here to the southwest to relax in the sun and enjoy what they can only do now in secret, risking arrest and possible imprisonment. Who are these 60- and 70-somethings? Snowbirds with money to purchase land, goods, and services in a notoriously cash-starved state–unrepentant 1960s hippies who quietly hung up their beads and bellbottoms and went to work for corporate America forty years ago. Nice folk who smoke dope only when among friends after work at their six-figure day jobs. The kind who are retiring to Colorado and spending their money there.

    But it seems our governments (Federal and NM State) prefer us paranoid, perhaps there are too many politicians, judges, lawyers, cops, and for-profit prisons raking in too much money maintaining the status quo. If NM doesn’t act soon they’ll be one of the last ones standing when the music stops; the marijuana land rush will be over and all the great state of New Mexico will have gotten out of it is an increase in cartel activity, spillover from states who could read the writing on the wall.

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