New Mexico is famous for growing chile and pecans. Soon, you may see another agricultural product join that list. The Hemp Manufacturing Act, signed into law this year by …
New Mexico is famous for growing chile and pecans. Soon, you may see another agricultural product join that list.
The Hemp Manufacturing Act, signed into law this year by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, delegates specific roles to two state agencies - the Department of Agriculture (NMDA) and Environment Department (NMED) - to establish regulations for this growing industry.
These agencies are working collaboratively to ensure regulations on hemp production and manufacturing are effective, while still maintaining flexibility for the hemp industry in a way that creates an economic boon for New Mexico. The end result will be a first: cohesive and comprehensive rules that best serve consumers, hemp growers and manufacturers. But that won't happen overnight, as each agency is invested in a robust public participation process that is currently unfolding.
NMDA accepted public comments and held hearings in late June regarding its role in the process, which is regulating the cultivation - breeding and testing - of hemp plants.
NMED's role picks up where NMDA's leaves off. Once plants are harvested, NMED will oversee the extraction and processing of hemp oils, processing, transportation, manufacturing and testing of hemp products. These include body products and foods containing cannabidiol (CBD). Such products do not contain the compound found in marijuana that causes psychoactive effects.
NMED's public process began July 16. Three public meetings are planned in Las Cruces (July 16), Santa Fe (July 18) and Albuquerque (July 24); additional details are at env.nm.gov/hempprogram. All meetings will be livestreamed, so interested parties from around the state and beyond will have the opportunity to participate. Public comment is sought.
To bridge the gap between the Hemp Manufacturing Act going into effect on July 1 and finalizing a permanent rule, NMED will enact an "emergency rule" on Aug. 1 that will govern the industry in the interim. NMED anticipates issuing a final rule in February 2020.
NMDA's final rule must ultimately be approved by the New Mexico State University Board of Regents. The Environmental Improvement Board must approve NMED's final rule.
Our departments are also collaborating with other state agencies, like the Department of Health, which is providing technical support and guidance, and the Department of Public Safety, which is developing transportation requirements. We're also ready to collaborate directly with tribes, pueblos and nations, as well as the state Indian Affairs Department, to ensure our sovereign partners are included in the process as they consider the economic benefits of hemp cultivation and manufacturing on their lands.
The bottom line: from plant to product, our agencies are working diligently to create effective rules that protect human health and expand the state's thriving economy. When New Mexicans purchase hemp-containing products from the shelves, they should feel confident in knowing that a team of dedicated state employees behind the scenes is ensuring their safety and quality.
Someday, we're hopeful that hemp will be as New Mexican as chile. And according to Department of Agriculture data, we're on the way: 5,700 acres of hemp have already been licensed, along with millions of square footage of greenhouse space. We are looking forward to watching this budding industry flourish in New Mexico.
James Kenney is New Mexico Environment Department Cabinet secretary; Jeff Witte is New Mexico Department of Agriculture secretary
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