New Mexico Governor Announces Cannabis Legislation Ahead of Opening Day for Session

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham unveiled the Cannabis Regulation Act with hopes to gain support from lawmakers as opening day for the 2020 session begins.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is summoning support from the state’s business sector to pass her proposed marijuana legislation in the new session.

“The Legislature has the opportunity to pass the largest job-creation program in New Mexico in a decade,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “Skeptics have been right to preach study and patience. I agree with their caution — and that’s why we haven’t rushed into this issue. But if we are clear-eyed about the risks, we have to be clear-eyed about the opportunity.”

On Jan. 21, the 30-day legislative session begins for New Mexico lawmakers. The short session means Lujan Grisham and cannabis advocates will only have weeks to gain enough support to put the legislation to a vote.

Lujan Grisham has pledged to make the state’s potential recreational marijuana program the new standard in the country. She has been rallying for recreational legalization since she created a cannabis task force last year. The Cannabis Legalization Working Group released a legalization plan of action, including recommendations, in Oct. 2019.

“This program takes advantage of the experiences of other states, avoids their mistakes and provides a plan that is the right fit for New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said in her news release. “We are balancing public safety and workplace concerns with effective regulation.”

Under the proposal, local jurisdictions will have the power to adopt reasonable cannabis regulations. The plan also includes cannabis conviction and arrest-record expungement and possible dismissal of cases of individuals incarcerated for cannabis-related offenses.

Several funding opportunities are highlighted in the proposal aimed at providing an easy transition into a legalized recreational environment. According to the governor’s press release, those include a cannabis workforce training fund, a low-income medical patient subsidy fund, a law enforcement protection fund and an impaired-driving education fund.

Lujan Grisham will need to find support from the state’s business leaders. According to the Albuquerque Journal, the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, one of the state’s largest business groups, actively opposed recreational legalization last year mostly due to concerns about whether businesses could still maintain drug-free workplaces.

The chamber’s leadership has not yet come out in support or against the new proposed legislation. During a luncheon at the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce that took place the same day as the release of the proposed cannabis plan, Lujan Grisham emphasized the economic benefits legalization could bring to her state

“Recreational cannabis is an economic game-changer,” Lujan Grisham said during a luncheon hosted by the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

Support for Marijuana in New Mexico

The marijuana legalization legislation is expected to be met with some hesitation from current legislators from both political parties. While both chambers have witnessed several failed attempts to pass cannabis reform in the state, polls show that New Mexico’s residents support full legalization.

According to a recent poll conducted by Research & Polling, Inc. for the Albuquerque Journal, a majority of voters across all five geographic regions of the state favor cannabis legalization. The poll showed support ranging from 73 percent in the liberal north-central area of New Mexico, to 52 percent in the historically conservative eastern region of the state.

New Mexico approved the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act in 2007 to legalize medical marijuana in the state. Learn more about current laws in the state by visiting our New Mexico Marijuana Laws page.

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