- Associated Press - Monday, January 12, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - A Democratic New Mexico senator wants to allow farmers to grow an industrial version of marijuana’s non-intoxicating cousin.

But it’s unclear, despite a movement nationwide, whether enough lawmakers from both parties support the proposal.

Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, recently filed legislation aimed at legalizing the selling of hemp and licensing of farmers to grow the crop. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act would establish fees and set up state regulations for the processing of hemp to be distributed.

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, who has pushed for the legalization of marijuana in New Mexico, said he thinks an industrial hemp bill may have a chance at passing during the legislative session that begins later this month.

“I think there will be some Republicans who support it, especially because it would help farmers and it’s a low water-use crop,” Ortiz y Pino said. “Whether or not we can get the governor to support it remains to be seen.”

Gov. Susana Martinez has said she did not support efforts to legalize marijuana in New Mexico but has not said if she supports allowing the cultivation of hemp in the state.

The GOP is set to take control of the New Mexico House for the first time in 60 years and it’s unclear whether any hemp proposal could pass the new Republican-led chamber.

Hemp has a negligible content of THC, the psychoactive compound that gives marijuana users a high. Many products made from hemp, such as oils and clothing, are legal.

But some law enforcement agencies have said marijuana growers could camouflage their illegal crops with hemp plants.

The 2014 Farm Bill included a provision that allows institutions of higher education and state departments of agriculture to cultivate industrial hem

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 19 states, including California and Colorado, have laws to provide for hemp pilot studies or for production.

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Follow Russell Contreras at https://twitter.com/russcontreras

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