Legislators make another run at legalizing pot during 60-day session

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Two state lawmakers who have tried to legalize marijuana in the past feel they have a better shot this year. One of the reasons being the democrats are back in full control of the legislature.

Albuquerque Democratic Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino said his constitutional amendment is simple.

“It legalizes cannabis and industrial hemp for us by adults in the state of New Mexico,” Ortiz y Pino said.

But what hasn’t been simple for the last three years is getting his bill out of the Senate and into the House of Representatives.

“We’ve never gotten it out of the Senate,” he said. “Kind of full hearty of me to just say well now we have democratic majority in the house but what we can say is that it’s gotten closer each year.”

Last year it lost on the Senate floor.

Ortiz y Pino said to pass, it needs 22 votes in the Senate and 36 in the House. Then it would be up to the voters.

“If they (voters) shoot it down it stops it right there,” he said.

It would be up for a vote until the next general election in 2018. If voters pass it, it would then go back to legislators for the 60-day legislative session in 2019.

“We’d have to have a legislative bill that would spell out all the details of how we’d actually implement it,” Ortiz y Pino said.

Because this is a constitutional amendment it doesn’t need the governor’s signature.

The second bill, proposed by Representative Bill McCamley aims to legalize and tax marijuana.

Governor Susana Martinez, whose made her opposition clear, would have to give her stamp of approval if the second bill were to pass. For Ortiz y Pino he said this push is more than just creating revenue for a states that’s in financial crisis.

“We’ve created crime. We’ve ruined lives. We’ve sent them to jail and kept them from college, all of those social consequences of prohibiting something that most of the people tell me is not as dangerous as alcohol is,” he said.

KRQE News 13 reached out to the governor for comment, asking if she thinks these bills have a better chance of passing now with the democrats controlling both houses. Her office sent a statement saying “The governor does not support legalizing drugs.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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