New Mexico could be the next state to legalize cannabis, as two recreational bills were just introduced into the state Senate this week and are already being looked at favorably by advocates, legislators, and even the governor.
These two bills take different approaches, one a bit more conservative than the other. The first, Senate Bill 288, takes the more conservative approach, as it would require a mile between dispensaries, making sure that there isn’t too heavy a concentration of neighborhoods selling cannabis. It would also impose an excise tax of 2 percent to cannabis sales in order to make revenue for the state, which, like the rest of the country, is hurting after COVID.
“Legalization is coming, and as a state, we must get ahead of the issue and pass legislation that does not harm our communities,” said Senator Cliff Pirtle regarding how he wants to see cannabis regulated in New Mexico. Pirtle feels that, with the impending legislation at the national level and Biden in office, as well as all of the other states that have legalized, legal cannabis in New Mexico is the next logical step.
The other bill, Senate Bill 13, which is backed by the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, would establish a 20 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis outside of gross receipts taxes in order to manage the money brought in from cannabis. So, while cannabis would be exempt from the gross receipts taxes, this would be a huge windfall of cash for the state.
It would also have the already existing Regulation and Licensing Department handle all the regulation and oversight of the new industry, something that could be put in place pretty easily under the current infrastructure.
Many are excited about the implications of the second bill, as it would give 65 percent of revenue generated to the state, and the rest to local governments. This kind of boost would be great for the New Mexico economy. The money could be used for any state programs that needed funding, which would be up to the lawmakers’ discretion, and could change as needs throughout the state change.
“I am optimistic and hopeful there’s sufficient bipartisan will to get a responsible adult use bill this year,” said Senator Daniel Ivey-Soto, who sponsored Senate Bill 13. He believes that legalization will allow law enforcement to focus on violent crimes and get away from the racial stereotyping that comes with the war on drugs.
The Current Status of Cannabis
As of now, New Mexico has decriminalized cannabis to some degree, as possession of half an ounce or below only has to pay a $50 fine. They also have a medically legal cannabis program already in place.
And now, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to see that go a step further with full legalization, especially now when revenue is so needed for the state.
If New Mexico does legalize, it will join many other states in the nation who already have thriving, legal industries, and this will be a big first step in rebuilding the state’s economy post-COVID.