The state capitol building of New Mexico, in Santa Fe.

David Bailey

New Mexico State Senators to Push for Legalization Next Session

A pair of New Mexico state senators plan on introducing legislation to legalize adult-use cannabis in the coming legislative session, which they say has the potential to help bridge the state’s growing budget gap, according to a KOB4 report.

State Rep. Bill McCamley, a Democrat, said that the state is facing a budget shortfall of $200 million and that the legal cannabis industry would be worth $60 to $70 million in tax revenues in the first year alone.

“We want to bring $60 million for funding education and economic development and save cops and courts and prisons $33 million a year from prosecuting cannabis crimes that they could use to go after real criminals,” he said in the report.

However, McCamley’s plan would require the support from his prohibitionist Republican colleagues and even if lawmakers were to pass adult-use legislation it would likely be vetoed by Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

“Hopefully we can make the argument to the governor that it’s better to have money for criminal justice going to the people who are fighting rapists and murderers, rather than people who are using cannabis,” McCamely said.

An alternative plan by Democratic State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino attempts to circumvent the legislature; opting to pass a joint resolution and send the question, as a constitutional amendment, to voters. Ortiz y Pino said his strategy would bypass the governor’s desk.

“I think in the best of all possible worlds, we would not have to go to the constitutional amendment route,” he said. “For one thing, it delays it two years. We can’t vote on it until 2018 now, without any of the benefit.”

If the amendment were approved by voters, 2019 would be the earliest the legislature could legalize cannabis.

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