Senate committee votes to table high profile marijuana legalization bill

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Legalizing marijuana in New Mexico won’t happen this year, despite the governor strongly supporting the move.

Late Wednesday night, two Democrat lawmakers joined Republicans in a 6-4 vote to table Senate Bill 115. The measure would have sheltered the state’s medical cannabis program and expunged convictions from people’s criminal records for having small amounts of pot.

Lawmakers spent a lot of time debating the controversial bill and with the clock ticking to get it through both chambers, some lawmakers are doubtful. “Legalizing marijuana is way too big of a bill that impacts all of New Mexico and society to do in eight days. The Governor completely mishandled this issue- there was an opportunity last year to do a bipartisan, bicameral effort but the governor has really turned this into a political and fundraising effort that I think has created a lot of tension in this issue and has really sabotaged it,” said Sen. Mark Moores of Albuquerque.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says legalization would have helped the state’s economy. The vote leaves little to no chance of reviving the bill before the end of the session next week.

The governor issued a statement saying she’s disappointed but her administration will keep working to get it done. Even if Senate Bill 115 would have passed its second committee Wednesday, there would have been a long way to go before it can reach the Senate floor.

It still needed to travel through one more committee, then it would head to the House for a similar process. One of the bill’s sponsors was still holding out hope late Wednesday.

“It’s very late in the session so it’s going to be very hard to get it through both houses this late but every different legislator we could expose to what we’re trying to do and educate them on why it’s so crucial and something should be done about this I think is a step in the right direction,” said Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque.

Also, both sides of the debate say they have research that proves marijuana should either be legalized or not. The 173-page bill covers how to tax marijuana, how to license it and how many shops each city in New Mexico wants.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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