Lawmakers in the state of New Mexico will have two chances to consider marijuana legalization this year with nearly identical bills introduced in both the House and the Senate. The state has been falling behind economically, and lawmakers are looking at legalization as an opportunity to bring in revenue the state desperately needs, while also putting an end to the illegal market, creating jobs and more.
“It is one way this state has, and I think one of the most promising ways of getting back on track economically. We create jobs, we create economic activity, and we create some tax revenue for the state. All of those are win wins,” Sen. Ortiz y Pino said.
The two bills both aim to create a legal commercial cannabis industry. They would tax cannabis at 15% between businesses, likely at a wholesale level similar to the system in place in Colorado. It would also allow cities to decide whether or not they wanted to allow commercial sales on an individual basis and give them the right to collect up to an additional 5% tax.
Unfortunately, even if both of these bills were to pass through both chambers they would still require the Governor’s signature to become law – and Governor Susana Martinez doesn’t have any interest in legalizing cannabis and would likely veto any bills that made it to her desk. However, there is hope that she may change her mind if there were enough public support for such legislation.
“The governor does not support legalizing drugs,” Martinez’s spokesman, Michael Lonergan, said in an email Wednesday.
In the event that either of the bills – or both – make it to the governor and get vetoed, then there is still a back-up plan of sorts. While Ortiz y Pino did submit one of the bills – which he says could be in place and operational by July if passed and signed by the Governor – he intends to introduce a constitutional amendment, which would have to first be approved and garner enough signatures to be placed on the 2018 ballot.
If voters passed such an amendment, then there would be nothing that the Governor could do to stop legalization from happening in the state of New Mexico. Either way, it will certainly be a topic of much discussion in the state over the next few months, and possibly until the 2018 election. Legalizing cannabis has so many benefits for the states that choose to move in that direction and hopefully that will be reality for New Mexico’s residents sooner rather than later.