Facing a budget shortfall and needing to deal with some other pressing issues, a special session of the New Mexico Legislature was called this past weekend. Some of those issues included laws relating to marijuana.
State representative Bill McCamley (D) introduced a bill that would legalize cannabis in a manner similar to the way it is in Colorado and Oregon. If passed it would allow for adults to grow up to 4 plants in their home and possess up to an ounce in public. It would also institute a 15% sales tax on the product. For a state facing an almost $600 million deficit, that could be a substantial help.
Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like much progress was made on the legalization bill this weekend. From KREQ:
It wasn’t just budget bills the Senate passed before adjourning though. They also approved a bill removing limits on the number of marijuana plants that medical pot producers can have and another laying the groundwork for industrial hemp research in the state. A marijuana legalization bill has been introduced in the House but isn’t likely to make significant progress this session.
As of this writing the House is locked in battle over numerous budget matters and cannabis tax revenue doesn’t seem to be on the radar for most. It’s unfortunate but it is also a stark reminder that most politicians are simply not ready to tackle this issue. Caution is a hallmark of many politicians, and they almost always lag behind public opinion on most issues. This is especially true with legalization.
With the special session costing the state about $50,000 a day, things are expected to wrap up soon and marijuana legalization will likely have to wait for 2017 (although the Senate is expected to return at some point to hammer out some amendments to the bills made by the House). Maybe if things go well for pro-legalization forces around the U.S. in November it will make the job of Rep. McCamley and others that much easier.
At the very least the issue is getting some press in New Mexico. That means the conversation has begun and the issue is on the radar of some people who hold power in the state. That is the foundation upon which all future progress on cannabis law reform in the state will be built on. If you live in New Mexico, it is up to you to hold your state representatives accountable.