SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Democrat and Republican lawmakers are introducing legislation they hope will finally legalize recreational marijuana use in New Mexico. State lawmakers are once again pushing to legalize marijuana. “The reason I decided to do it this time is I got frustrated with the fact that I think people want us to do this in pretty high numbers,” Democratic Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto said.
Ivey-Soto is introducing a bill to legalize recreational adult use of cannabis for the first time. “We need to make sure we have a bill that will pass,” Ivey-Soto said.
Ivey-Soto is proposing a program in which private businesses would control the sale of cannabis as opposed to the state, and it would be taxed 21%. Ivey-Soto said it is time to decriminalize pot. “We divert a lot of law enforcement resources to something that is more of a nuisance as opposed to something that puts other peoples’ safety at risk,” Ivey-Soto said.
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Senate Bill 13
Republican Senator Cliff R. Pirtle is making his second run at getting a marijuana bill passed. In 2019, his bill would have given the state control of the sale of marijuana, but the bill died. This time around, he has changed it to private companies and said he thinks it has a better chance of passing. “I think that is the direction the other bills will go,” Pirtle said. “I want to have a bill that is at least close enough that I will have a seat at the table about how some of the regulations are.”
Pirtle said his bill would keep taxes low by imposing a 2% excise tax on top of local gross receipt taxes. It would also give a portion of the money made to the Department of Public Safety to help crackdown on impaired drivers. “For me, if it passes or doesn’t it’s not a personal desire of mine,” Pirtle said. “I just feel if it is going to pass, there are some issues I think are important we maintain.”
Democratic representative Javier Martinez has introduced a marijuana bill every year he has been in office. He said his bill is largely the same this year with some changes about who will benefit from the money made. Martinez has placed emphasis on a medical cannabis subsidy program for people who struggle to afford medical marijuana and a program that would help underrepresented communities get an equal shot in the industry.
If passed, Martinez said tens of thousands of jobs would be created, stimulating hundreds of millions in economic activity. Martinez said he believes the “different political dynamic” of this legislature will work in the bill’s favor. “We have a new commitment to diversifying the economy so we are not so tied to the hip of oil and gas,” Martinez said. “It makes for the perfect conditions if you will. I don’t think the opportunity has ever been better than it is now to pass a legalization bill.”
There’s also a difference in the bills on how the money will be distributed to local governments and the state. However, all of the bills include regulations to discourage use by minors.