Bill legalizing recreational marijuana heads to Senate, clock is ticking on end of session

Legislature

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Wednesday night, the Senate Judiciary Committee met – and people were eager for it – to hear HB12, which aims to legalize recreational marijuana. But, the clock is ticking for the bill to get past this committee to go to the floor for a vote before the session ends.

After some changes, the bill passed the Judiciary Committee Wednesday night with a vote of 5 to 4 to approve the bill. It now heads to the full Senate where it would need to be approved in the next two days to have a fighting chance to make it to the governor’s desk this legislative session.

“Should we legalize cannabis in New Mexico this year, I can assure you that we will all be back next year making tweaks, that’s the way it should be,” said Rep. Javier Martinez. “Because good policy and good law should be evolving.” At the start of the session, the bill’s sponsors were optimistic because of the “different political dynamic” in the legislature.


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“I don’t think the opportunity has ever been better than it is now to pass a legalization bill,” Rep. Martinez, said to KRQE in February. The bill was passed by the last Senate committee on March 9 but hadn’t made it through the judiciary.

Democratic Senator Joseph Cervantes leads the committee. He took to Twitter on Wednesday saying he was still waiting for amendments to HB12 from the sponsors. KRQE News 13 reached out to him late Wednesday to see what those amendments were, but we did not hear back. Some people responded to Sen. Cervantes’ tweet accusing him of stalling so the bill wouldn’t make it to the floor, and possibly the governor’s desk.

In February, Democratic Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto explained why he sponsored the bill for the first time this session. “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,” Sen. Ivey-Soto said.

Another bill, SB 288, also aims to legalize recreational marijuana and is on the committee’s agenda. There are only a couple of days for the bills to make it to the floor for a vote before the session ends on Saturday at noon. Senator Cervantes said the committee will try to get through other bills first before getting to the ones about recreational marijuana. He said the committee meeting may go until 2:00 a.m. Thursday morning.

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