New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham gave her State of the State address on Tuesday, urging cannabis legalization. Medical cannabis has been legal in the state since 2007.
“We’ve got to create more opportunity in rural communities, on Main Streets all through our state—and so we’ve got to consider every single good idea. A perfect example is cannabis,” Lujan Grisham said. “This is the fact: Recreational cannabis can be the next frontier of our economic expansion. We can get in on the ground floor or we can try to play catch up—I know which one I prefer.”
The latest polling shows 75% of New Mexico residents support legalization. Kelly O’Donnell, a consultant, told Lujan Grisham’s task force in August that annual tax revenue is expected to be roughly $120 million in five years. (Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the working group.)
“For years now, the legislature has heard and debated recreational cannabis proposals. We’ve watched states come before us, we’ve watched them stumble in some areas, thrive in others, and every year we’ve said, ‘No, not yet, it’s not for us.’ Well, it’s easy to get to ‘no.’ It’s harder to stand up and create something good and new. And we’re ready for that,” Lujan Grisham said.
It was no surprise that the governor emphasized legalization, as she called for the cannabis policy as an economic priority when she released her agenda last week for the 30-day legislative session, which began Tuesday.
“These 30 days are the final stages, not the starting point. My legalization working group—a team of experts and advocates, experienced stakeholders from every corner of the industry, law enforcement from rural and urban areas alike and more—built upon the conversations the Legislature has had in past years,” Lujan Grisham said.
The governor talked about the community input that this working group solicited, which has been used as a tool to build momentum for legalization. For example, in Pennsylvania, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman conducted a statewide listening tour before calling for legalization.
“They visited communities all across the state last year. They solicited candid community input from parents and providers and coaches and police officers; they laid out a vision of a New Mexico where we use every tool in our economic toolbelt, strategically adopting best practices from the states that have come before us, creating a thriving and safe new industry employing thousands of New Mexicans and delivering hundreds of millions in revenue back to cities and counties and the state for public safety and health care,” Lujan Grisham said.
The Cannabis Regulation Act has already been introduced in the legislature, and it’s packed with some noteworthy provisions, including: automatic expungement of cannabis possession convictions; nixing the medical cannabis sales tax; allowing for microbusiness licenses; and an emphasis on protecting natural resources.