LOS CHAVEZ, NM (KRQE) – A New Mexico farmer said that after struggling to make ends meet by just growing alfalfa, she turned to growing hemp. Now, her latest business venture is starting the first medical marijuana grow operation in Valencia County.
“Anybody who was farming in the Rio Grande Valley last year, we had a very poor year for the water,” farmer Taylor Ortiz said. “We didn’t have enough water in the ditches to water consistently, and we did not get as many cuts of alfalfa as we should have.”
She said the addition of growing hemp has led to another business opportunity.
“I was approached by Everest Apothecary… providing medical cannabis for patients in New Mexico.”
“When hemp wasn’t working out as well, they got an opportunity to do the medical cannabis,” Valencia County’s Interim Community Development Director Gabriel Luna said.
But that requires a conditional-use business license from the county, which led to a public hearing, which officials said they wanted in order to be transparent about the process and address people’s concerns about security and increased traffic.
“They did put up a fence. There will be no commercial trucking, they will not be selling from the property,” Luna stated.
Ortiz was approved for the license to start the medical marijuana grow operation that will be monitored by the state’s Department of Health.
“This is a business opportunity,” Luna said. “This is growth in the county for the business and just for people getting educated about this as well.”
In the meantime, Ortiz said it’s too soon to know what the return on the hemp acreage will be, but it’s something more New Mexico farmers are turning to.
“I believe there’s about 5,700 acres of hemp in production here in New Mexico. We have, retrospectively to compare, 8,000 acres of chile,” Ortiz added.
Ortiz is now working with the Department of Health to get certified to grow medical marijuana. She doesn’t know yet when she’ll start the venture or how big of an operation it will be.