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New Mexico Lawmakers Look to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

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New Mexico lawmakers are still milling over the idea of legalizing recreational marijuana. Experts say that the industry would be huge in the state, bringing in much needed jobs and revenues. As more residents visit neighboring Colorado for their marijuana, lawmakers realize a decision needs to be made sooner than later.

New Mexico residents often use Highway 285 to travel to Colorado for recreational marijuana, according to KOB 4 News.  Some are taking the Colorado town of Antonito as an example of what legal recreational marijuana can do for a small town. The town went through an 80-year economic depression until legal recreational marijuana came to town.

Tegan Welsch-Rainek of Steam Train Hotel said, “It’s in the middle of nowhere in Colorado.”

The town is thriving with three recreational marijuana shops, marijuana hotels and a smoking bar. Leaders in New Mexico find this drastic change in economic status appealing. A majority of the visitors to Antonito are from New Mexico.

Welsch-Rainek said, “You know, they’re going on their ‘daily fishing trips’. They’re coming from Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Taos… there’s a lot of traffic from there.”

Green Genie operator Lorrie Garcia said, “We have a regular customer who comes every Sunday and buys an ounce. We get a lot of like lawyers, doctors, hunters, you name it, they come in.”

Green Genie estimates that about $3,000 of daily income comes from New Mexico residents. New Mexico wants to be able to keep this revenue within state lines. The discussions to legalize recreational marijuana in the state have never been more serious.

Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing said, “We can assume that it’s probably in the millions of dollars in revenue that’s flowing up from New Mexico to Colorado.”

Gessing also said, “We may not be the next Colorado, but I think if we follow that broad model, there are some gains to be had in New Mexico.”

Regarding estimates of what New Mexico’s legal marijuana industry could be worth if recreational use become legal, Gessing said, “$34 million to upwards of $57 million, depending on how much tax rate you put on it.”