New Mexico Senate Committee Approves Bill to Legalize Marijuana, Including Marijuana Stores

A Senate committee in New Mexico has voted in favor of legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for those 21 and older. 

Senate Joint Resolution 4, filed by Senator Ortiz Y Pino (D), was passed by the Senate Rules Committee by a vote of 4 to 3. Senators Lopez, Ortiz y Pino, Ivey-Soto, and Steinborn voted in favor of the resolution, with Senators Papen, Moores, and Pirtle voting against. The resolution would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.

“Today’s vote sets in motion the process to put the issue on a 2018 statewide ballot for voters,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance.  “Marijuana prohibition in New Mexico has clearly failed. It hasn’t reduced use and instead has resulted in mass criminalization, appalling racial disparities, and enormous fiscal waste. Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution will allow our legislature to rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms.”

Polling data from 2016 shows that 60% of New Mexico voters support legalizing marijuana.

“It will be difficult to pass the resolution through both chambers in a 30-day session, but introducing it is important,” said Kaltenbach. “We also hope to discuss the merits and challenges of marijuana legalization with legislators during the interim session, as well as with their constituents. Feedback from these conversations will make for the best, most carefully thought out policy proposal for 2019.”

The Drug Policy Alliance’s newly released report From Prohibition to Progress finds that states are saving money and protecting the public by comprehensively regulating marijuana for adult use. There have been dramatic decreases in marijuana arrests and convictions, saving states millions of dollars and preventing the criminalization of thousands of people.

The report also finds that: youth marijuana use has remained stable in states that have legalized; access to legal marijuana is associated with reductions in some of the most troubling harms associated with opioid use, including opioid overdose deaths and untreated opioid use disorders;  DUI arrests for driving under the influence, of alcohol and other drugs, have declined in Colorado and Washington, the first two states to legalize marijuana; and, at the same time, states are exceeding their marijuana revenue estimates and filling their coffers with hundreds of millions of dollars.

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