Cannabis legalization was derailed in New Mexico after a disappointing procedural defeat when a Senate Judiciary Committee decided to table a promising bill in a 6-4 vote.
And it wasn’t for lack of trying or support
Unfortunately, tabling the bill has essentially killed it for this year’s legislative session, which ends on Feb. 20, 2020.
“We’d have no chance of getting it through now,” Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque) told the Albuquerque Journal. “This is a setback, but I think in the long run it will produce a better bill.”
The current, failed bill was not bad though.
In addition to allowing adults to possess and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers, the legalization proposal, Senate Bill 115, contained social justice provisions such as automatic expungements for prior cannabis possession convictions and funding for community reinvestment projects. Although, home cultivation was not included.
A year to wait
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a strong supporter of the bill, said it was inevitable that New Mexico will legalize marijuana – although it won’t happen this year.
“The door remains open. We will keep working to get it done,” the Democratic governor said in a statement. “And ultimately we will deliver thousands of careers for New Mexicans in a new and clean and exciting industry, a key new component of a diversifying economy.”
Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, echoed the governor’s sentiment.
“We are very disappointed that a bill that would have done the right thing for New Mexicans,” Kaltenback said in an emailed statement.
“As a result, the communities that have been most impacted by prohibition will continue to be left out in the cold, along with those that could have benefitted from the investment made in substance use disorder treatment and education, not to mention the boost this would have provided to New Mexico’s economy,” added Kaltenback.
Needed revenue and jobs are no joke
A study done by the New Mexico Economic Development Department and released earlier this year examined the employment impact of the cannabis legalization proposal on a county-by-county basis. The study concluded that it offered a “rosy forecast” for most of the state.
“Legalized recreational cannabis in New Mexico is inevitable,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “The people of New Mexico have said they want it. A diversified state economy demands it.”