New Mexico Governor Releases Road Map For Recreational Cannabis Legalization

A marijuana legalization working group formed by New Mexico’s governor has laid out a recreational cannabis legalization model with a “patient first” focus.

New Mexico lawmakers now have a plan of action if they chose to approve the legalization of recreational marijuana. A special task force created by the state’s governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, created a report outlining a potential recreational cannabis model for the state.

“Together, we believe the framework we are submitting is right for New Mexico. It is clear that we have both the necessary apprehension that goes with this venture, as well as the talent and capital to make this happen the right way. Done well, we will create more than 11,000 new jobs -more than education and mining combined -in communities statewide,” Grisham stated in the report’s executive summary.

The report took 100 days to finish, an effort that included 30 hours of public meetings and the review of more than 200 pages of public written comment on the state’s website. The group charged with the task was Grisham’s marijuana legalization working group, which she formed in July.

Grisham said the model the group developed is like none other and would implement specific guidelines to protect the state’s medical marijuana patients. For one, if cannabis supplies run short, medical marijuana patients will be served first.

“We intend to protect patient access and affordability with a “patient first” supply model,” she stated.

Grisham chose Pat Davis, an Albuquerque city councilor, to chair the working group. Davis told the Albuquerque Journal that the group reviewed other states who already established recreational cannabis legalization. By studying other states’ experiences, the group was aiming to avoid pitfalls like high tax rates which could lead legal cannabis users back to the illegal market.

“What we’re trying to do is not replicate the bad models and to do something different,” Davis told the Journal.

Market analyst estimates from the report suggest that first-year sales could reach up to $318 million, increasing to $620 million by year five. The report also indicated medical and recreational cannabis combined sales could generate nearly $100 million in new revenue for state and local governments annually.

New Mexico Marijuana Work Group Recommendations

The Marijuana Work Group submitted five recommendations as well as models for licensing and fees, tax rates, revenue allocations, new funds, and penalties.

Here are some highlights of the recommendations provided in the report by the New Mexico Cannabis Legalization Working Group:

  • Clear labeling and strict testing of THC products.
  • Invest in law enforcement training early on and delaying home grows.
  • Create social equity programs utilizing cannabis revenue.
  • Give power to local municipalities to determine the time, manner, and place cannabis restrictions.
  • Cannabis licensees will serve both medical and recreational markets.
  • The cannabis program should be 100 percent funded through licensing fees.
  • Keep total tax rate under 20 percent, by setting a framework creating a 17 percent total tax rate.
  • Create a low-income patient subsidy program to provide subsidies for low-income and high-user patients needing financial assistance to purchase medical marijuana.
  • Remove felony punishment from crimes involving cannabis, and create “escalating” misdemeanors,” meaning handing out minor penalties for a first offense and more severe penalties for a second offense.

Daily Cannabis News

If New Mexico legalizes recreational marijuana, it will join 11 other states that have already done so.

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