By Michael Gerstein | Santa Fe New Mexican
Hemp: New Mexico industry growing like a weed
About a mile down a dusty dirt road, Jill Brown is shucking the bud from a hemp plant in front of a warehouse-sized pile that looks more like tumbleweed than $1.2 million in the making.
Her partner, Kathleen Odea, laughs. “Wishful thinking,” she says.
The two business women still have to sell it. But at $20 or more per pound — which is less than half of what it was worth four years ago — their stockpile of hemp is worth far more than any green chile, alfalfa or lettuce crop.
“Nobody makes $20 a pound on tomatoes, corn, alfalfa or any of that. This is a big cash crop,” Brown says. “You can take 10 acres and actually make something out of it for a summer.”
The Santa Fe resident started farming hemp in San Luis, Colo., about five years ago. Brown then bought 240 acres in Estancia shortly before the Legislature passed a measure signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham this year that regulates the production, testing, research, manufacturing and transport of commercial hemp and its derivative products.