Historic Recreational Marijuana Bill Includes Big Changes

HB 356 made history late on Thursday night as the first recreational marijuana proposal to be approved in New Mexico. Big changes were made to the bill during the 3-hour debate on the House floor

HB 356 made history late on Thursday night as the first recreational marijuana proposal to be approved in New Mexico. Big changes were made to the bill during the 3-hour debate on the House floor

In the original bill, it was legal to carry two ounces of marijuana, but now it's down to one ounce. 

Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque, is one of the bill's sponsors and says that the compromise also included creating a state-level commission that will oversee recreational cannabis.

Historic recreational marijuana bill includes big changes

The original bill also allowed a homegrown license for people who want to grow their own cannabis, but the compromise bill no longer allows that.

The excise tax is now at 17 percent instead of 19 percent.

Some Republicans say they still have their concerns surrounding legal marijuana and DWI. The compromise bill does not have language to determine how high is too high to drive.

'This legislation did not contain authorization for law enforcement to do search warrants or obtain blood samples," said Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque. 

Some Republican supporters say it would give the state strong regulatory controls.

The new bill does not give much of a chance for those wanting to start a private recreational marijuana business. That big change came from the Republican Senate bill and it's modeled after Utah liquor laws. 

"I think the state-run store is a better idea than having every mom and pop sell marijuana up and down the street," Rehm said.

"If you're in a community where there are more than 25 miles between state-sanctioned stores, there is potential for a private retail license," Martinez said. "All of those rules and frameworks will be developed by the independent commission we are setting up." 

In the original bill, anyone could apply to get a license to privately sell recreational pot through the state licensing department. Now, the independent commission will handle those requests. 

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham would appoint those commissioners. 

The bill is more than 130 pages but tucked into pages 47 through 51 is language stating that essentially any crime this bill legalizes has the opportunity to be expunged.

"Our bill would expunge possession of one ounce or less," Martinez said. "If we are going to legalize and make people wealthy, because let's face it, this is a multi-billion industry, then we want to make sure we take care of those who have been left behind." 

Martinez says this would create $50 to $70 million in tax revenue and more than 10,000 jobs. 

Recreational marijuana sales could begin as soon as 2021 if it is signed by Gov. Lujan Grisham.

The bill has been assigned to two committees in the Senate. The bill sponsor says it is set to be heard in its first Senate committee on Saturday.

by Megan Abundis


New Mexico Senate OKs Medical Cannabis at Schools

A bill that would allow the use of medical cannabis at schools zoomed off the Senate floor Monday afternoon.

Senate Bill 204, co-sponsored by Sens. Candace Gould, R-Albuquerque, and Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Gail Armstrong, R-Socorro, would allow children who are qualified patients to use the medicine in school settings and permit school personnel to administer it.

With little discussion, 35 senators voted to pass and two did not.

Gould told Senators the bill addresses the problem of students choosing between going to school every day and taking their medicine.

"My constituent came to me, torn between using medicine that's working more effectively for her child's epilepsy with less side effects than the Valium she was using and being able to go to school," she said.

That constituent is Lindsay Sledge, whose daughter Paloma uses cannabis oil regularly to control severe seizures.

Sledge has been pushing to change the law in the state.

Sledge told the Journal she's "very excited" about the Senate's approval of the legislation.

"I'm sort of blown away by the amount of support we've had for the bill," she said. "When I first started doing this whole process, I had several people say this was going to be next to impossible."

Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, D-Albuquerque, supported the bill during Monday's debate, saying it addresses a problem across the state.

"Since it is the policy of this state to support medical marijuana this is an opportunity to let our schools know that they need to support it for our children as well," she said.

There are currently 175 other children in the state using medical cannabis, Gould said.

Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview, who voted not to pass the bill, pushed on SB 204 because it did not appropriate money for storing the medicine.

Gould said the medical cannabis probably would be locked up with other prescription medicines that are allowed on school campuses now.

The bipartisan bill approaches the use of medical cannabis at school much like the use of other drugs at schools.

But districts are allowed to opt out if they can determine they'd lose federal funding because marijuana remains illegal under federal law. SB 204 has a provision that allows parents to appeal to the state Public Education Department if districts are exempted from allowing the medicine at school.

The bill now heads to the House.

"I'm hopeful it will pass its next step quickly," Sledge said.

Courtesy of Las Cruces Sun.

S. 420 Introduced To End Federal Prohibition And Regulate Marijuana Nationwide

Senator Ron Wyden has introduced legislation in the Senate — The Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act— to permit states to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal interference. In addition to removing marijuana from the United States Controlled Substances Act, this legislation also removes enforcement power from the US Drug Enforcement Administration in matters concerning marijuana possession, production, and sales — thus permitting state governments to regulate these activities as they see fit.Click here to send a message to your lawmakers in support of Senate Bill 420 now!“Senate Bill 420 is another sign that the growing public support for ending our failed war on cannabis consumers nationwide is continuing to translate into political support amongst federal officials,” said NORML Political Director Justin Strekal. “If we are truly going to move our nation towards sensible marijuana policies, the removal of marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act is paramount. Annually, 650,000 Americans are arrested for nothing more than the possession of small amounts of marijuana and now is the time for Congress to once and for all end put an end to the national embarrassment that is cannabis prohibition. With marijuana legalization being supported by a supermajority of Americans while Congress’ approval rating hovers around 20 percent, ending our country’s disastrous prohibition against marijuana would not just be good policy, but good politics.”Upon introduction, Senator Wyden said, “The federal prohibition of marijuana is wrong, plain and simple. Too many lives have been wasted, and too many economic opportunities have been missed. It’s time Congress make the changes Oregonians and Americans across the country are demanding.”Representative Earl Blumenauer, who will carry the House companion legislation, said, “Oregon has been and continues to be a leader in commonsense marijuana policies and the federal government must catch up,” said Blumenauer. “The American people have elected the most pro-cannabis Congress in American history and significant pieces of legislation are being introduced. The House is doing its work and with the help of Senator Wyden’s leadership in the Senate, we will break through.”Legislative text for the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act can be found here.Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, oryouth use patterns. Instead, they have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.Specifically, a 2017 report estimates that over 149,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.https://blog.norml.org/2019/02/08/s-420-introduced-to-end-federal-prohibition-and-regulate-marijuana-nationwide/