Whenever people ask me which states I think might legalize recreational marijuana in 2016, I always offer up the same eight states. Six of them have the potential to do so via citizen initiative - California, Nevada, Arizona, Michigan, Maine, and Massachusetts. The other two are considered likely candidates via a legislative action - Vermont and Rhode Island. If one New Mexico lawmaker has his way, another state would be added to the potential legislative action list. Representative Bill McCamley prefiled a marijuana legalization bill this week for the upcoming legislative session. Per KOB4:
Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces, sponsors the bill, which would allow people aged 21 years and older to purchase and use marijuana legally; would allow the state to regulate growers and distributors; and would allow for the production and sale of industrial hemp in the state, among many other things.
"When you look at Colorado on our other border, they've brought in around $100 million in increased tax revenue, so this is a really good way of hurting drug cartels and helping our business community and our schools at the same time," Rep. McCamley said Wednesday. "A lot of people say let's wait and see what Colorado does. Well how long are we going to wait to see the kind of success that they've had? It's already there!"
The bill, most of which addresses the "Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act," is similar to a bill Rep. McCamley sponsored last session, which was killed in a House committee.
I don't know that New Mexico has as good a chance as Vermont and Rhode Island, but I think this legislative session in New Mexico will be much more favorable compared to years past. If California, Nevada, and Arizona join Colorado, Oregon, and Washington in legalizing marijuana, almost all of the Western United States will have legalized marijuana. I have to assume that at least some lawmakers in New Mexico see that the winds of change are picking up, and that it's a good idea to get out ahead of things. Legalization is good public policy, whether it's in New Mexico or elsewhere.