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Adult-Use Marijuana Legalization Bill Advances in New Mexico

New Mexico Cannabis Legalization

House Bill 356 to legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico advanced with a 5-2 vote on Jan 9. Democrats showed the most support for the bill.

Lawmakers listened to roughly 3-hours of testimony before voting, the Albuquerque Journal reported.

“Prohibition simply does not work, and the country is coming to the realization of that,” said Rep. Antonio Maestas, a co-sponsor of HB 356.

Employers voiced concern about people being under the influence of marijuana while at work. Sherman McCorkle spoke for the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce regarding businesses’ concerns.

McCorkle said, “We strongly believe that employers must have the right to establish a drug-free workplace and have the ability to enforce that.”

With a few concessions already voiced, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham supports recreational marijuana legislation in the state.

Some of the prospected bill provisions are:

  • Requiring part of recreational marijuana store supply to be dedicated to medical marijuana patients
  • Training law enforcement to detect stoned drivers
  • Up to 19% tax on recreational sales
  • Proceeds from marijuana tax revenue to support law enforcement, research, health programs, city and county governments
  • Cities and counties can “opt-out” of allowing recreational sales
  • Marijuana arrest and conviction record expungement

The House Judiciary Committee has the bill now. If it passes this committee, it heads to the full House floor for a vote. From here, it would head to the Senate for final votes.

The 2019 legislative session is nearly half-way over in New Mexico, leaving lawmakers with little time to get this bill through all the committees.