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New Mexico Senator Files Recreational Marijuana Legalization Bill

New Mexico Recreational Marijuana Legalization

State Representative Bill McCamley has filed House Bill 89 to legalize recreational marijuana. At the same time, the state is facing severe budget crises. Last year, a similar effort introduced by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino failed.

The 2017 legislative session is active through March, and this will be a topic of discussion, according to New Mexico In Depth.  The federal illegality of marijuana plagues its status in New Mexico, but lawmakers are aiming to change that. Governor Susana Martinez’s administration opposes legal recreational marijuana, especially banking on the new study that says marijuana doubles the potential of developing schizophrenia.

Ortiz y Pino said, “Some people voted against it just on general principle, that it’s a bad thing and we should not be encouraging it.”

New Mexico isn’t expecting any kind of financial support in efforts of passing a recreational marijuana law. They’re also not expecting much extra tourism if/when marijuana is legalized.

Executive Director of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute, Richard Anklam, said, “New Mexico won’t see people coming across the border like we see with Colorado. The sooner we do it (legalization), the more likely we would have an initial positive impact. The reality is that there is an existing tax base in New Mexico for recreational marijuana, at least anecdotally, but because it’s illegal and it’s underground, it’s not being taxed.”

Ortiz y Pino also wants to see recreational marijuana legalized in New Mexico because it would open up some space in local jails for those committing real crimes. He said, “The vast majority of people who get locked up for marijuana (possession) are Hispanos, Latinos, Chicanos or black, not white kids.”

Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico agreed with that statement.

The New Mexico Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) expects marijuana cases to dwindle if recreational marijuana becomes legal. The AOC said, “It would limit the prosecution of possession of marijuana to people under the age of twenty-one, and only amounts over any limits provided in the implementation of legislation, by people twenty-one years of age or older.”

Jessica Gelay, policy coordinator for New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance said, “Let’s look at what is legal … alcohol and cigarettes. These are very damaging things (substances) to our bodies and we don’t think about outlawing them because we know that prohibition doesn’t work.”