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.
Voters in several states elected new governors who support marijuana legalization last week. Now, top legislative leaders in two of those states—Illinois and New Mexico—say they are optimistic about the chances of getting bills to end cannabis prohibition to the desks of those new state chief executives after they take office next year.
“[M]y guess is if it were to make it to the floor, it would probably pass the House,” Rep. Brian Egolf (D), the speaker of New Mexico’s House of Representatives told the Santa Fe Reporter in an article published on Tuesday.
Also on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) supports Democratic Gov.-elect J.B. Pritzker’s plans to push for marijuana legalization, which he campaigned heavily on.
Madigan had previously been noncommittal on ending cannabis prohibition, saying earlier this year that he hadn’t “come to a final decision” on where he stood on the issue. His backing will be key to getting a legalization bill to Pritzker to sign.
In New Mexico, the prospect of legalization got a huge boost with the election of Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) as the state’s next governor.
But while Egolf, the speaker, is optimistic about House passage, the state’s Senate has historically been less open to cannabis reform. That said, even some lawmakers in that chamber who personally oppose marijuana use now seem ready to back legalization.
“I don’t want recreational marijuana, but I understand the political reality that it is here,” Sen. Mark Moores (R) told the Santa Fe Reporter. “I want to make sure we have a system that is extremely well-regulated, and the ability to take those revenues and mitigate some of those negative social impacts that marijuana has.”
Senate Majority Floor Leader Peter Wirth (D) is also hopeful about getting a legalization bill to Lujan Grisham in 2019, saying that it would “lead to huge economic development.”
Pritzker and Lujan Grisham are two of more than 20 major party gubernatorial nominees who endorsed marijuana legalization ahead of this month’s midterm elections.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Top Lawmakers In Two States Optimistic About Marijuana Legalization In 2019
Despite recent comments made by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that go as far as comparing cannabis to heroin, and suggesting that there is a lot of violence surrounding the cannabis industry, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security says that it’s not really something they are all that worried about when it comes to the War on Drugs. It was during a Meet the Press interview on Sunday morning with DHS Secretary John Kelley when host Chuck Todd asked him whether or not legalization would help or hurt their work at the border to keep drugs out of the country that prompted Kelley to make this comment.
“Yeah, marijuana is not a factor in the drug war,”
Rather, Kelley cited three drugs in particular as issues at the Mexican border and further south – including heroin, methamphetamine and cocaine. He claims that almost all the methamphetamine and heroin are being produced in Mexico and that cocaine is produced further south in Latin America – and that those are their main focuses. “You cannot put a price on human misery,” Kelley said, explaining further that those three drugs in particular lead to the deaths of around 52,000 people each year – and they also end up costing the United States about $250 billion a year.
Another part of the interview that gives hope to many activists who have been fighting against the drug war for years now is the fact that he appears to realize that incarceration is not the answer to the problems in the U.S., suggesting we focus on rehabilitation and reducing the demand for these drugs before we worry about law enforcement. After all, getting the drug dealers off the streets is a practically never ending situation because as long as people are still looking for drugs someone will be there to supply them.
“The solution is not arresting a lot of users,”
“The solution is a comprehensive drug demand reduction program in the United States that involves every man and woman of goodwill. And then rehabilitation. And then law enforcement. And then getting at the poppy fields and the coca fields in the South.”
However, the current policies of jailing are not the way to go when trying to treat addicts – rehabilitation is, and it’s good to see someone who is closely involved with the war on drugs to be bringing attention to this for a change. While the Department of Justice is set to review and consider adopting new marijuana enforcement policies, perhaps they will take the words of Secretary Kelley into consideration, remembering that there are much more harmful substances that we need to be worried about.
Originally published: The Marijuana Times
New Mexico Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces) has pre-filed a bill in the state legislature that would legalize cannabis and hemp statewide. The bill language is modeled after Colorado’s Amendment 64, a state that has become one of the templates for the statewide legalization of cannabis in the United States.
“When you look at Colorado on our other border, they’ve brought in around $100 million in increased tax revenue, so this is a really good way of hurting drug cartels and helping our business community and our schools at the same time,”
Rep. McCamley said.
“A lot of people say let’s wait and see what Colorado does. Well how long are we going to wait to see the kind of success that they’ve had? It’s already there!”
Rep. McCamley’s bill, which is similar to one he sponsored last year that was voted down in committee, would enable those aged 21 and older to legally purchase and use marijuana. It would also allow private businesses to produce and sell hemp, among other products, and would enable the state to regulate distributors and cultivators.
Republicans, who control the state house, in the state have vowed to thwart any efforts aimed at legalization. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez, a possible contender for a spot on the 2016 presidential ticket, has vowed to veto any legislation legalizing cannabis in the state.
A registered medical marijuana patient in New Mexico, is suing the United States Border Patrol over his right to possess and use cannabis. Raymundo Marrufo filed the lawsuit to “cease questioning U.S. citizens regarding medical cannabis in any states where the use of medical cannabis has been approved.”
In yet another instance of state and federal law colliding, New Mexico’s laws allow Marrufo to possess and acquire medical cannabis. However, Marrufo must cross through a US Border Patrol checkpoint as part of his journey back home from La Cruces, where he acquires his cannabis. As is routine, Federal agents ask travelers crossing the checkpoint if they are in possession of any illegal drugs. Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, Marrufo cannot answer this question clearly.
Marrufo’s formal court complaint, filed by attorney Jason Flores-Williams, explains his dilemma:
“If Marrufo answers ‘yes,’ he is a drug smuggler subject to felony indictment. But if Marrufo answers “no,” he could be guilty of lying to a federal agent.”
This contradiction means Marrufo could face federal charges for distribution, which carries a 7-year prison sentence as well as confiscation of personal property.
However, Flores-Williams is looking to the Rohrabacher Amemdment for clarity. As part of a 2015 appropriations act, this amendment prohibits the Department of Justice from enforcing federal law regarding “use, distribution, possession or cultivation of medical marijuana” in favor of state-level legislation. New Mexico’s medical marijuana statute, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, became active in July 2007. It allows patients suffering from certain medical conditions to use cannabis if it is recommended by their physician. Marrufo suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a qualifying medical condition under the Compassionate Use Act.
The lawsuit further states:
“Whether it is a sense of entitlement, indifference or simply ignorance of the law, the court must immediately issue an injunction enjoining the United States Border Patrol from asking questions and conducting searches that violate that Rohrabacher Amendment.”
Flores-Williams insists that the lawsuit is not meant to criticize law enforcement, but seeks to resolve the discrepancies between state and federal law. “When there is confusion about the law and citizens require clarity about the law, then this is when judges have to do their job and review the law, review the arguments and bring us back a resolution so people can conduct their lives according to the law.”