A cannabis legalization bill has passed New Mexico’s Senate Public Affairs Committee by a slim 4-3 vote along party lines, the Associated Press reports. In addition to legalizing cannabis for adults, the measure would provide subsidies for low-income medical cannabis patients, expunge low-level cannabis convictions, and would not allow municipalities to prohibit cannabis operations.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called for the reforms prior to the start of the state’s legislative session, saying that the industry would create 11,000 new jobs and “generate hundreds of millions of dollars” in tax revenues for the state.
In October, the Marijuana Legalization Work Group – created for and appointed by Grisham – released its report on potential legalization in New Mexico, estimating cannabis derived tax revenues would reach $63 million in new state and local taxes following year one and nearly $94 million by year five.
The proposal includes home grow provisions and sets the excise tax rate at 9 percent breaking with the task force recommendations that did not support home grows and proposed a 17 percent tax rate. The bill caps municipal and county taxes at 4 percent each.
The measure also allows for social use at licensed cannabis dispensaries.
The bill moves next to the Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Sen. Joseph Cervantes, a moderate Democrat who in 2015 voted against a measure to allow voters to decide whether to legalize cannabis and, during his 2018 campaign for governor, said the state didn’t have the infrastructure for legalization.
Last year the House approved a legalization measure that would have allowed cannabis sales through state-run dispensaries but that bill died in the Senate.