New Mexico marijuana laws may be changing this year as cannabis related issues seem to be a high priority for the Senate and the House. The Democratic Party took control over both last November and have since come up with a number of pressing issues including the need to legalize marijuana and 2 separate bills aimed at just this. On top of that, there will be policy debates held on industrial hemp, taxing marijuana, DUI penalties and updating the current medical marijuana program which is now 10 years old. Legislature is currently undergoing a 60 day session wherein all the above mentioned issues will be discussed.
We Could See New Mexico Marijuana Legalized as Early as July
The New Mexico marijuana legalization measures are somewhat based on Colorado’s laws. The state would regulate the sale of marijuana and add a 15 percent sales tax to all marijuana sales. An additional 5 percent may be added by local government in New Mexico or they can choose to disallow it in their jurisdiction. People would be allowed to grow their own marijuana all across the state with or without local government consent. The legalization bills are being presented to the Senate and House for a vote as opposed to a public vote. Should Legislature pass a legalization bill and have it signed by the governor, it could be functional by July. Alternatively, bringing it to a vote in 2018 could delay it until 2019.
Economic Woes in New Mexico
The state is pushing efforts to implement legalization as soon as possible, in order to remedy the New Mexico economy, which is under duress right now. It has a significant deficit and needs to build up operating reserves. The state budget has been trimmed and more cuts could be made if some form of revenue doesn’t appear. The legalization of marijuana is a fast way to build a solid revenue stream for government. Colorado and other states with a legal market have been able to profit immensely from the tax revenue, including being able to funnel a lot of that money into schools and anti-bullying programs. It would provide a solid solution and is spurring Legislature on to look at the issue and deal with it this year.
“One of the Most Promising Ways” to Increase State Revenue
Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque is planning to talk about the Senate version of the bill this week. “We create jobs, we create economic activity and we create revenues for the state. It is one way this state has, and I think one of the most promising ways, to get back on track economically,” he stated. Many Democrats within Legislature are in support of his view and will have the chance to discuss it further once the New Mexico marijuana legalization bill is introduced.
Some of the urgency for states to deal with marijuana legislation as soon as possible is out of fear that, should Jeff Sessions become Attorney General, it will set marijuana policy back to the dark ages. As many states as possible are now trying to legalize and get ahead of the game before any new laws are introduced.