SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – On Friday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her support for a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico for adults 21 and older, citing the move as a major economy drive that would create thousands of jobs.
In a press release, the proposal, House Bill 160 is based on a report by the Cannabis Legalization Working Group that was appointed by the governor to study the issue last year. The group had public meetings and is said to have received over 200 pages of public comment from residents across the state prior to issuing a framework for public health, public safety, testing, and regulation.
“The Legislature has the opportunity to pass the largest job-creation program in New Mexico in a decade,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham in a press release. “Skeptics have been right to preach study and patience. I agree with their caution- and that’s why we haven’t’ been rushed into this issue. But if we are clear-eyed about the risks, we have to be clear-eyed about the opportunity.”
The governor’s office reports that the legislation would generate around 11,000 new jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, regulation, and retail in addition to an estimated $620 million in sales by the fifth year according to an independent analyst.
The proposal would require all cannabis products sold in New Mexico to be tested, are free from contaminants, and are clearly labeled with the THC dosage. The bill also includes restrictions on advertisements that are targeted on youth.
In addition, the bill requires investments in training that would assist law enforcement officers in identifying impaired driving, not only cannabis-induced.
“It’s critical that people know legalizing recreations use does not mean legalizing impaired driving,” said New Mexico State Police Chief Tim Johnson in a statement.
Two recent polls showed very different stances on the legalization of recreation marijuana in New Mexico. An Emerson College poll shows that 63% of New Mexico voters are opposed to full legalization while Change Research found 75% of New Mexicans favored legalization.
The governor’s office reports that while the state has been regulating legal medical cannabis for over a decade, last year producers sold almost three times more medical cannabis than chile.
“It’s time to stop pretending cannabis is not already a part of our economy and culture,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.”The thousands of New Mexicans who work in, supply and serve our medical cannabis program are employers; they are doctors; they are entrepreneurs; they are neighbors.”
The proposal also includes an initiative that provides for the possible dismissal of cases involving individuals who were incarcerated for cannabis-related crimes. The legislation also calls for a 20% tax rate unlike higher rates in other states which is expected to prevent buyers from turning to the black market.
The bill will exempt residents in the medical cannabis program from the tax and would require cannabis growers to serve the medical market before the recreational market.
Nine other states have already legalized recreational cannabis.