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Recreational marijuana remains out of reach for New Mexico

Bill fails to pass in key committee
New Mexico’s bill to legalize recreational marijuana failed to pass in committee this week.

FARMINGTON – Colorado might have led the way in legalizing recreational marijuana, but not every state in the Four Corners shares its support of the green leaf.

A bill in New Mexico’s Legislature that would have legalized recreational marijuana was rejected by a committee in the Senate, all but killing it for this legislative session, which ends next week.

The push to legalize marijuana received a political boost when Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham expressed her support of the legislation last month. “The Legislature has the opportunity to pass the largest job-creation program in New Mexico in a decade,” Lujan Grisham said at the time.

Yet, the bill failed to garner the necessary support. Two Democrats joined Republican committee members to stop the bill, which would have legalized recreational marijuana in every city and county while bolstering the state’s medical cannabis industry, which was legalized in 2007.

The Senate’s decision comes a month after the New Mexico Economic Development Department released a county-by-county study that largely looked at the jobs that would be created based on a 25% user rate. According to its estimates, San Juan County would have about 20,400 new users and could support 38 new dispensaries employing four people each – 152 new jobs.

The majority of New Mexicans are in support of legalization, according to a 2020 poll by the Albuquerque Journal. The poll found 61% of adults supported becoming the 12th state to legalize marijuana, 33% opposed it and 6% were uncertain or did not answer.

Although the bill jumped one hurdle when it passed the Senate Public Affairs Committee with a 4-3 vote Jan. 28, it failed in a 6-4 vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Feb. 12. The Associated Press reported it would likely not overcome that vote this year.

Lujan Grisham and supporters still seemed optimistic that recreational marijuana would find its way to the Land of Enchantment.

“Legalized recreational cannabis in New Mexico is inevitable,” the governor said in a statement Wednesday. “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. We will deliver justice to the victims of an overzealous war on low-level drugs.”


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