SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – With hours left in the legislative session, the controversial issue of legalizing recreational marijuana hangs in the balance. However, a spokesperson for the governor said they are optimistic the debate could still happen.

A spokesperson for Senate Democrats said in a text message: “While anything could happen between now and noon tomorrow, cannabis bill not currently planned for debate on the floor,” Chris Nordstrom, Senate Democrats spokesperson. But the governor’s office said if recreational cannabis does not get heard before the session ends, she will call a special session just strictly on the issue of marijuana.

People have been cautiously optimistic that this year was going to be the year marijuana passes, but since House Bill 12 has been a controversial bill, some lawmakers said that they will fight hard during the debate and so even if this bill hits the Senate floor, we expect the Senate to discuss it for hours.

Right now as it stands, HB12 would allow the sale of cannabis starting in April 2022. It would have an excise tax of 12% that would go to local and county governments and only people 21 years and older would be allowed to buy it.

Even if it gets debated and passes out of the Senate, it will have to head back to the House for concurrence. We expect lawmakers in the House to take up at least three hours’ worth of debate on its concurrence.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham supports the legalization of marijuana in efforts to spur employment and economic recovery from the pandemic. She is expected to sign the legislation if given the chance.

The sponsors of HB12 released the following joint statement:

“We need to legalize adult-use cannabis tonight or in a special session. It’s now up to the Senate to have a vote. House Bill 12 puts forward New Mexico’s best opportunity to establish a multi-million-dollar industry with a framework that prioritizes social justice and equal opportunity for our communities. The Governor has made a commitment to sign a bill that represents our shared principles, and we welcome any avenue, to do so. New Mexico is ready.”

Rep. Javier Martinez (D- Albuquerque) and Rep. Andrea Romero (D- Santa Fe)