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Temporary assembly declines New Mexico's legalization provide

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The Associated Press February 14, 2020

The governor is behind legalization, but New Mexico lawmakers may need a little more time to develop on this issue. (SeanPavonePhoto / AdobeStock)

SANTA FE, NM (AP) – New Mexico's attempt to become the 12th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana abruptly stalled after senators rejected a bill in a Democratic-dominated legislature , which would have forced permission to sell the cities and towns of the state as a whole.

During a nightly committee vote on Wednesday, two Democratic Senators voted Republicans 6-4 to stop the legalization law, which also overturns marijuana convictions and supports the state's existing medical cannabis program with tax breaks and patients would have subsidies.

It was the second failure of legalization advocates to achieve their goal in New Mexico since the Democrats took control of the governorship of the Republicans in 2018 and expanded their legislative majority.

The vote almost didomed a law that resulted from years of efforts by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to prepare for legalization – and highlighted the difficulties in using the legislative process to fully legalize marijuana.

Difficult to legalize through lawmakers

Thirty-four states and Washington, DC, have legalized cannabis for medical or recreational use. Michigan and Illinois are the youngest of eleven states that have legalized recreational sales, but only Illinois and Vermont have legalized this through their legislation. The rest of the state's leisure sales came through direct voter approval, which in New Mexico only allows constitutional changes.

Lujan Grisham has begun legalization efforts as her government seeks to attract and build new industries in a country that is highly economically dependent on oil production, leading to boom and bust cycles.

Earlier last year, she hired a trusted ally – the Albuquerque City Council, Pat Davis – to lead a travel working group that meticulously set out a legal framework to address public concerns about recreational cannabis and drunk driving, and job security and denying access to young people.

30 days to read, digest and discuss

But the task force's work has not overcome the opposition in some parts of the state, and some lawmakers said they had little time to digest a modified 186-page bill that outlines how sales would work. It is difficult to move complex bills through legislation, as unpaid lawmakers only have 30 days to complete this year's legislative period.

Democratic Justice Committee chairman Joseph Cervantes opposed objection to licensing requirements for marijuana companies that required agreement with organized workers and business licenses to people with previous drug abuse convictions, including distribution crimes.

"Progressive exceeded"

And Republican Senator Ron Griggs said there was criticism of the requirement that counties, cities, and towns allow recreational marijuana sales that prohibit sales of local alcohol and two counties until last year, " dry ”- ban on alcohol sales.

Rep. Paul Bandy, also a Republican, said there was considerable opposition to legalization in his district, which borders Colorado and its pioneering recreational cannabis economy.

"I think the progressives realized that they probably went too far in one election year," he said.

The New Mexico bill required a 9% state excise tax on marijuana sales to fund local law enforcement agencies, drug abuse education, and treatment for drug abuse.

A portion of the marijuana sales tax revenue would have been used for social justice to help communities that were negatively and disproportionately affected by the federal government's previous drug policy. Many previous convictions that did not involve human trafficking would have been automatically rejected.

The failure to push the bill was due to the fact that a bipartisan measure to sell recreational cannabis in state-owned stores had stalled last year despite the support of three Republican senators.

This year's bill required a private marijuana sales framework that would have required medical cannabis to be sold in all pharmacies.

Dashed dreams for entrepreneurs

Discontinuation of legalization law shelved by retired teacher and aspiring marijuana farmer Bob Rogers. He wanted to build a commercial marijuana greenhouse on his 65-hectare ranch near the Texas state border.

Rogers is already growing medical cannabis for self-consumption under a state license for personal production to treat diagnosed chronic pain in an injured leg. He had hoped to lure one or both of his adult sons back from New York and California to New Mexico to run the business.

"I am proud to be here and look forward to growing weeds if the state ever gives us a chance," he said.

Despite the vote against the law and the fact that it can hardly be revived during the current legislature, Lujan Grisham said in a statement that "legalized recreational cannabis is inevitable in New Mexico".

“The people of New Mexico said they want it. A diversified state economy demands it, ”she said.

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