ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - What about legalizing small amounts of marijuana in New Mexico?
After the Department of Justice announced it won’t sue Washington and Colorado for the laws they passed, it has local lawmakers speaking out.
That was a hot topic in the Roundhouse in January, and it probably will be again.
Lawmakers KRQE News 13 spoke to say the move by the feds came as a surprise. For both sides, it's just another sign that this issue isn't going away.
When it comes to lighting up some marijuana in Washington and Colorado, the feds won't step in.
Thursday's announcement from the Department of Justice came as a shock to some and others, a sigh of relief.
“It does seem that we have a national opinion that is changing,” Rep. Emily Kane, (D)-Albuquerque said.
The move even has some local lawmakers here in New Mexico speaking out.
"I'm concerned that New Mexico, what we've done in New Mexico, is heading down the same path,” Sen. John Ryan, (R)-Albuquerque said.
That path Ryan is talking about is the path of reforming the state's marijuana laws.
Just this past legislative session Kane introduced a bill that would ease penalties for those caught with small amounts of the drug.
“Rather than characterize marijuana as one of the dangerous substances that the War Against Drugs has been attacking, were seeing it more in the light of medical usage and a beneficial substance we should be investigating further,” Kane said.
Her bill passed the House with a 37-33 vote but then died in the Senate.
Ryan says legalizing marijuana, even decriminalizing it, isn't smart.
“The concern is that we have a lot of substance abuse issues in our state,” Ryan said.
And he says it would only make those issues worse.
Despite that, Kane argues the whole thing just makes financial sense.
“The amount of money and the amount of time the courts are investing in prosecuting people whose only crime was possessing marijuana seems a little bit disproportionate to the damage and problem,” Kane said.
This past February, a national pro-marijuana group polled New Mexicans and claimed 52 percent of the states voters support taxing and regulating the drug.
Gov. Susana Martinez, a former district attorney, has said she would veto anything decriminalizing recreational marijuana use. That means it would take a proposed constitutional amendment to get it on a statewide ballot like lawmakers in Colorado and Washington did.
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