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.
This post was originally published on February 26, 2019, it was updated on March 5, 2019.