New Mexico Senate Rules Committee Approves Legalization Bill

New Mexico Senate Rules Committee Approves Legalization Bill

Flickr / Ron Cogswell / CC BY 2.0

Recreational cannabis might be heading for the New Mexico ballot in 2018. On Feb. 2, 2018, the New Mexico Senate Rules Committee voted 4-3 to approve Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino’s Senate Joint Resolution 4, a measure which would allow state residents to vote on cannabis legalization in the next general election.

If approved by the legislature and then approved by New Mexico voters, the ballot amendment would alter Article 20 of the New Mexico State Constitution by adding a new section which would read, in part, that “Possession and personal use of marijuana shall be lawful by persons twenty-one years of age or older … .”

The state legislature would be responsible for promulgating rules and regulations concerning the production, transportation, processing, taxation, sale and acceptable quantities and places of use of cannabis. Any tax revenue generated would go towards the state general fund.

“Today’s vote sets in motion the process to put the issue on a 2018 statewide ballot for voters,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement. “Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution will allow our legislature to rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms.”

Similar efforts to legalize cannabis in New Mexico are also happening in the New Mexico House of Represenatives, where lawmakers have introduced a measure to legalize cannabis in the state by 2020.

Introduced by Rep. Javier Martínez and topping out at 130 pages, the bill is extensive and covers a host of regulatory concerns, from on-site social consumption to subsidized medical cannabis.

With New Mexico’s legislative session ending on Feb. 15, it is unlikely that either measure will pass, but supporters hope that the introduction of these measures can help lay the groundwork for a more thoughtful policy discussion during the next session.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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