Last week, the New Mexico House of Representatives controversially passed a compromise measure to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in the state. State authorities discussed House Bill 356, the Cannabis Regulation Act. However, during the debate, Democratic Rep. Javier Martinez, who is the primary sponsor of the bill, started a “compromised floor substitute” which deals with funding the Senate legalization measure, Senate Bill 577 by Republican Sen. Mark Moores. The House approved the alternative legislation with a vote of 36-34. However, most Republican representatives and Democrats voted against the bill.
According to the act, people aged 21 and above can carry up to one ounce of marijuana for private consumption, if they have the original receipt for the marijuana from an authorized store. Marijuana will mainly be found in state-operated retail shops, and it will be similar to alcohol sales. Dispensaries owned by private entities would only be permitted in areas which lack state-run marijuana shops. Indoor growing of recreational cannabis is prohibited, but registered medical marijuana patients can still cultivate their medicine.
According to Martinez, it is necessary to have a receipt for your cannabis.
He also said that individuals caught possessing marijuana without their receipt would face criminal charges.
Growers of recreational cannabis will receive authorization from the state. They will also be regulated by agriculture, health, and environmental authorities. A maximum of 17 percent will tax recreational cannabis sales. Lawmakers predict that the sale of recreational marijuana would result in $40 to 50 million dollars in tax revenue per year.
Before voting on the bill, Martinez gave some reasons for legalizing cannabis.
Martinez said that marijuana is less harmful than tobacco, and alcohol, but it’s a multi-billion dollar industry which is still under the radar.
Recently, a media source hosted a discussion on the possible economic impact of the legalization of recreational marijuana. During the meeting, the CEO of Cannabis NM Staffing, Shannon Jaramillo said that cannabis legalization would be beneficial to the state.
Jaramillo said many people are willing to buy legal cannabis from dispensaries. She also noted that marijuana would positively impact the economy.
According to some restaurant owners in New Mexico, money should not be the first advantage when it comes to cannabis legalization.
Apart from bringing money to the economy, cannabis also brings economic prosperity. But cannabis legalization might have to negative consequences over the long run.
Some restaurant owners also said that cannabis legalization would have a positive impact on most business owners in the state. So it’s a big opportunity for business owners to invest in the cannabis industry.
Due to the recent passing of the bill which legalizes the sale of marijuana, the next step is for the Senate to approve the measure. The Senate has less than a week to pass the bill. According to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, there is tentative support for recreational cannabis legalization, given that the legislation safeguards the medical marijuana community for patients and handle problems that will come from marijuana legalization such as impaired driving and access by children.