LAS CRUCES, NM (KTSM) – In New Mexico, the conversation to legalize cannabis is continuing.
Residents of Doña Ana County are getting the chance to give their two cents on legalizing marijuana.
Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart held the first of seven public meetings in order to seek opinions from residents.
The idea for the meetings came after Sheriff Stewart was appointed to a 20-member committee known as the “Cannabis Legalization Working Group” last week.
Created by New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, the group is composed of community leaders throughout the state.
Its purpose is to make recommendations to the governor based on public opinion as the state government begins to propose legislation for the recreational use of marijuana.
“It was a surprise to me to be asked,” Sheriff Stewart said.
Although the committee is not required to host meetings, Sheriff Stewart says she wanted to emphasize the importance of public input.
“I know nationally what statistics say regarding legalization of recreational cannabis,” she said. “I really don’t know what people in Doña Ana think so this was a brainstorm of mine.”
During the meeting, Sheriff Stewart says residents shared personal stories on their experiences with marijuana.
The meeting also consisted of some who oppose to recreational use.
“I’ve seen a lot of drug use and I believe that the gateway drug is marijuana,” Doña Ana County resident and retired Philadelphia policeman Dave Gallus said. “But I also believe that people that have a medical need absolutely need to have any natural drugs that they can use.”
Despite the potential income that could come from legalization, Sheriff Stewart says the state needs to make sure it’s ready before making the jump.
“There is a lot of moving parts in this process so I think the biggest challenge is going to be not only being ready from a legislative standpoint for the vote, but ready as a state to take on this task,” she said.
Residents of Doña Ana County still have a chance to speak with Sheriff Stewart on the matter at the following times and dates: