Legal recreational pot is inching closer to becoming a reality in New Mexico as state lawmakers push measures forward in Santa Fe. House Bill 356 passed the House Judiciary Committee Saturday and is now headed to the House floor for a vote — a first in state history.
Meanwhile, Republican senators had their own Cannabis Regulation Act heard in a Senate committee Saturday, too. It also passed.
“We came to the conclusion that legalization is coming,” Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, said. “How can we do it in a way that’s more responsible, so we don’t have the negative social impacts that Colorado and other states have had?”
“So we wanted to sit down at the table and give our solution, as Republicans, to how we would like to see the regulation of cannabis,” he said.
The House bill is sponsored by Democrats and would make it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to two ounces of pot and grow up to six mature plants in their home. It allows towns and cities to prohibit sales, but not ban the use or growing of plants in private homes.
The Senate bill, however, does not allow for homegrown marijuana. It would create a cannabis control commission to regulate cannabis production, sales, and testing, also setting standards on the packaging.
The Republican lawmakers want childproof packaging and labels showing where the pot came from, but these aren’t the only concerns when it comes to legalizing weed. Medical marijuana patients want to make sure their cannabis is protected.
“It is not like a batch of cookies where you can go buy ingredients and get more. You have to wait for a whole plant to grow itself before you can get more medicine,” said Ginger Grider, a medical cannabis patients advocate. “Even with fines imposed, producers always choose to sell out on the recreational side first because they are going to make money.”
The sponsors of the Senate bill say they agree with her, which is also something Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham wants. While the House and Senate bills may not be identical, the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Mexico appears to be on the horizon. The specifics of the idea just need to be worked out.
If the House bill passes on the floor vote, it heads over to the Senate for consideration. The Senate bill still has to get through a few more Senate committees before it gets a floor vote, then heads over to the House to repeat the process.