Discussions to legalize cannabis in the state of New Mexico have reached a deadlock over the past week, leaving many skeptical that any meaningful compromise will be reached.
A hearing regarding cannabis legalization was scheduled for this past Sunday, before being pulled off of the agenda minutes before the hearing was about to begin.
Among the subjects of disagreement between legislators and legalization advocates were the statewide tax rate, pardons for criminals arrested on drug charges, and licensing processes. State Senator Cliff Pirtle (R) is pushing for more streamlined cannabis taxation processes, greater effort to combat the state’s illegal cannabis market, and the removal of as many barriers to entry as possible for entrepreneurs entering the cannabis industry.
What Proponents of Legalizing Marijuana in New Mexico Are Saying
Advocates for the legislation say that its passage would help alleviate the economy in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Proponents of the House-passed legalization bill that passed the New Mexico House of Representatives argue that passing marijuana legalization must include some form of social justice provisions to benefit disproportionately affected communities. State Representative Javier Martinez (D), one of the House representatives who wrote the bill, emphasized the need to assist communities that have experienced greater degrees of marijuana-related arrests and convictions.
State legislators have until March 20th to agree on the terms and conditions of marijuana legalization before it is sent forward to the governor for final approval. With days left until this legislation needs a final approval, and despite governor Michelle Lujan Grisham having set cannabis legalization as a top priority as a means to counter poverty rates in the state, the chances of success for New Mexico’s marijuana legalization plans look slim.
However, if approved, New Mexico would join Vermont, Illinois, and—once in effect—Virginia as states which have legalized marijuana through legislative means rather than through a ballot initiative.
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