State lawmakers discuss new bill to legalize marijuana

New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Illinois just became the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana, effective Jan. 1. So what does that mean for the possibility of marijuana getting the green light here in New Mexico?

Some state representatives said they are hopeful New Mexico will be the next state to jump on board with legalizing recreational pot.

“I can’t wait for New Mexico to be next in line and be a leader in the country,” Rep. Javier Martinez, (D)-Albuquerque, said

Martinez is part of the task force created by Gov. Michele Lujan Grisham working to legalize marijuana here in New Mexico.

“The country is following that lead, and New Mexico certainly wants to be among the first to legalization,” Rep. Martinez said. “Not only to legalize but do it in the right way.

The group made up of law enforcement, medical professionals and politicians has met several times this fall to discuss a legal marijuana market.

“One of the things I learned from the process is the openness and willingness of people across the state to look at recreational cannabis with an open mind,” Rep. Martinez said.

Taking recommendations from the group into consideration, Martinez is pre-filing a new bill in the coming days to legalize marijuana. He said under the new legislation, recreational marijuana would be a private industry, regulated similar to the way the state does liquor stores.

He added that in order to protect the existing medical marijuana program, sales tax would be eliminated on any medical cannabis product to cut costs, and subsidies would be created for low-income patients.

“There is going to be a very tight regulatory framework around the industry to ensure not only public safety, but quality for customers,” Rep. Martinez said.

A similar bill was passed in the House last year, but it got stalled in Senate committees. Rep. Martinez is more hopeful this time around since he believes people are more accepting of the idea.

The governor has previously made it known that she wants marijuana legalized at this year’s session, which begins January 21.

Rep. Martinez said if passed, they will divert funding from cannabis sales to law enforcement programs statewide to help fight the war on drugs.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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