Two New Mexico committees pass bills for marijuana legalization


Recreational cannabis is about to become a reality in New Mexico. Two distinct bills—one sponsored by House Democrats, the other by Senate Republicans—have been approved by committees. The differences between these two bills show a division on how cannabis legalization will be controlled.

After successfully passing the House Judiciary Committee, House Bill 356 is now about to become law in the state, which legalized medicinal marijuana back in 2007. Within its regulations is the authorization for people to carry a maximum of two grams of cannabis and cultivate a maximum of six plants for personal consumption. The bill will also delete the records of New Mexico residents carrying low-level cannabis convictions.

According to one of its five co-sponsors Senator Jerry Ortíz y Pino, the House will surely vote for the bill, and the Senate is going to be its usual thirty-years-behind-the-times self.

However, Republicans at the Senate have recently acknowledged that recreational cannabis is an imminent fact in their state, and have become more alert on issues related to cannabis. At the beginning of the year, Senator Candace Gould drafted a bill to permit school children in New Mexico to use physician-prescribed medical marijuana on campus. Currently, Republicans in New Mexico have created their plan for recreational cannabis.

Senator Cliff Pirtle said that they finally accepted legalization. He also suggested that legalization should be done in a way that avoids the negative social impacts affected by Colorado and other legal marijuana states. He added that the Senate should come together and give their solution on how cannabis should be regulated.

Importantly, the Republicans’ proposed legislation, Senate Bill 577, would ban home grow operations, and instead opt for total control by a state cannabis control commission. Sales would be restricted to government-operated retailers. That bill exceptionally went through the Senate Public Affairs Committee.

The banning of Home grows have been a significant talking point. Recently, it was stated that some cannabis companies such as MedMen, Columbia Care, Etain, PharmaCann, The Botanist and Acreage NY, and Vireo Health had told New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that home-grow should not be banned in the state’s impending cannabis regulation. The communication given to Cuomo stated that home grows protect the unregulated market, and lead to infected cannabis, therefore costing the state’s money in tax revenue.

A report on the fiscal impact issued by the Legislative Finance Committee on the House bill will go into effect on July 1 if it successfully passes in both state legislative bodies. According to the report, recreational marijuana would lead to a yearly income of $33.9 million by 2023. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham who is an advocate of broad access to cannabis recently stated that she would push the state to include opioid addiction to its rundown of qualifying conditions for its medical marijuana program.

New Mexico is among the many states which have recently passed cannabis legislation. As mentioned by Marijuana Moment founder Tom Angell, similar states such as Vermont, Hawaii, and New Hampshire have had similar victories over the past few weeks.

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