New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called upon lawmakers to legalize recreational cannabis use in 2020.
The governor laid out the agenda for a 30-day legislative session that is scheduled to begin on Tuesday, Jan. 21, and cannabis featured as the number one economic priority. Grisham wants recreational use to be legalized and for the state to establish a regulatory framework that includes public safety considerations, public health safeguards, and the protection of the state’s existing medical cannabis program.
“Supported by 75% of New Mexicans in a recent poll, the legalization of recreational cannabis is projected to create 11,000 New Mexico jobs and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue,” she said.
The poll she referred to was commissioned by Legalization Working Group and it surveyed 1,005 likely voters across the state between Nov. 26 and Dec. 2, 2019. Initially, the measure received 73% support, and that increased to 75% after those polled learned of the working group’s recommendations.
The working group has recommended using new cannabis revenue to create new law enforcement grants, subsidize and lower the cost of medical cannabis, expand investments in behavioural health, and invest in at-risk communities.
Legislators have been working on turning these recommendations into legislation to be filed for the 2020 legislative session beginning on Tuesday.
Thirty days does not leave much time for a bill to be approved by both chambers, but if legislators manage to get a bill on Grisham’s desk then New Mexico would almost certainly become the 12th state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use cannabis.
The state already has a thriving medical marijuana program, and the governor’s main concern is preventing anyone that is not from New Mexico from accessing it. Last year it had to issue its first medical marijuana cards to non-residents after retailer Ultra Health secured victory in a court battle.
Medical dispensaries had been marketing their wares to Texans, as medical marijuana remains outlawed in the Lone Star State. New Mexico tried to prevent this from going ahead, but it was unsuccessful in an attempt to block non-resident sales.
Grisham has made it a priority to amend the 2019 legislation regarding residency requirements for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program to “clarify that only residents of the state of New Mexico shall participate in the state’s medical cannabis program”. She hopes that this will “protect” the New Mexico program and its patients.