Recreational Legalization Bills Advance In New Mexico House And Senate

Recreational Legalization Bills Advance In New Mexico House And Senate

A bill to legalize the recreational use of cannabis was just approved by the House Judiciary Committee in Santa Fe, New Mexico, making it one step closer to becoming law. House Bill 356 now moves to the House floor for a vote which could take place as early as Wednesday.

“I think most people recognize the war on drugs has failed, and this is one way of addressing that failure,” said Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque), co-sponsor of House Bill 356.

Same same but different legislation, introduced by Republicans, was also approved by the state Senate on the same Saturday that HB 356 was approved by the House Judiciary Committee.

“We came to the conclusion that legalization is coming,” Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R-Roswell) said. “How can we do it in a way that’s more responsible, so we don’t have the negative social impacts that Colorado and other states have had?”

Introduced by Democrat Representatives Javier Martinez, Antonio “Moe” Maestas, Daymon Ely, Deborah A. Armstrong, and Angelica Rubio, HB 356 would legalize the recreational possession and use of cannabis by adults aged 21 and older.

Protecting the rights of medical marijuana patients, residents would also be permitted to cultivate up to six mature plants at one time under the House bill. Home cultivation would not be negotiable, but each municipality would be able to decide if retail sales would be allowed.

Unlike the proposal in the House, growing at home would not be legal under the Senate bill.

“So we wanted to sit down at the table and give our solution, as Republicans, to how we would like to see the regulation of cannabis,” Sen. Pirtle said. The childproof packaging of cannabis products, including details about where the product originated, was most emphasized in the Senate bill.

Medical cannabis patients in the Land of Enchantment are not as supportive of the Senate’s version of legalization. “It is not like a batch of cookies where you can go buy ingredients and get more. You have to wait for a whole plant to grow itself before you can get more medicine,” said patient advocate Ginger Grider.

Michelle Lujan-Grisham, Governor of New Mexico, has stated that she agrees with patients like Grider. While the details may not yet be settled, recreational legalization may occur in New Mexico as early as this year.

The Senate bill must be approved by more committees and the floor before it may be sent to the House for a vote. If the full House supports HB 356 next week, it will move to the Senate for consideration.

Gov. Lujan-Grisham is expected to sign the bill into law if it makes it to her desk.

Hemp Research Bill Approved By New Mexico Senate, Moves To House Vote

Hemp Research Bill Approved By New Mexico Senate, Moves To House Vote

After many compromises and amendments to the bill’s verbiage, Senate Bill 94, the legislation legalizing industrial hemp farming for scientific research has been passed by the New Mexico Senate.

This bill, sponsored by Sen. Cisco McSorely (D-Bernalillo), had to clear three different committees before being approved by the full Senate in a 23-18 vote.

It was not the easiest sell, as many senators questioned the safety risks that may be associated with such legalization. Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort (R-Sandia Park), raised many such questions during the Senate hearing. During the hearing, Beffort reportedly stated,

“There’s not a distinctive smell differentiation, they don’t look dramatically different and from 1,000 feet, unless you have those special cameras, apparently, you won’t be able to tell the difference.”

To which, bill sponsor Sen. McSorely responded by explaining the difference between marijuana and hemp. They are both cannabis, but hemp has minuscule amounts of the psychoactive cannabinoid known as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). This means that the kids cannot get “high” on industrial hemp.

Sen. McSorely summarized,

“This plant is not a threat to our children,” McSorley said. “I put our faith in our farmers who want to grow it.”

This bill only legalizes industrial hemp cultivation for research purposes, and the honors will most likely be given to New Mexico State University. Hemp cultivation has been against federal law for decades, but a recent federal farm bill legalized the farming of the plant for research purposes only.

Although this bill does not permit farmers to begin growing hemp as a cash crop, it does however establish the framework to allow for industrial farming of hemp if it is ever legalized by the federal government.

Laws have already been passed in 19 states, including California, Colorado and Kentucky, establishing pilot programs for research and production of marijuana’s “non-intoxicating cousin,” according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Senate Bill 94 will now move to the New Mexico House for a vote. If it is passed by the house, it will go to the desk of Governor Susana Martinez. Gov. Martinez has reported that while she does not support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, she does support the legalization of industrial hemp. She will most likely sign this bill into law if it makes it to her desk.

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