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New Mexico Senate Blocks Move to Let Voters Decide Recreational Cannabis Issue

Legislators in New Mexico defeated a proposed bill that would have put the issue of cannabis legalization into the hands of voters.

The New Mexico Senate voted down Senate Joint Resolution 5 by a vote of 24-17. The resolution, sponsored by Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque), would have put the question of legalizing recreational cannabis to voters this November.

Voters would have been given the option of legalizing marijuana for recreational possession and use by adults 25 or older. The proposal had initially put the age requirement at 21, but it was amended to change the minimum age to 25.

In the event that voters approved the proposal, the state legislature would have had to pass legislation to create a recreational cannabis regulatory system.

Prior to the vote Sunday, Republican lawmakers argued against the bill. Senator Sander Rue (R-Albuquerque) voiced concerns that children would be at risk of getting a “contact high” from being near adults who were smoking cannabis. Sen. William Sharer (R-Farmington) claimed that today’s cannabis is “so potent, it becomes addictive.”

Six Senate Democrats were among those who voted against the resolution, though it’s unlikely that the bill would have passed the Republican-controlled House.

More than 60% of New Mexicans support legalizing retail cannabis, according to poll numbers from January.

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