New Mexico’s legalization push is all but dead, for now. On Wednesday night, just days before the end of the session, the Senate Judiciary Committee tabled SB 115, which would have legalized cannabis use and sales for adults.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a statement, “Legalized recreational cannabis in New Mexico is inevitable. The people of New Mexico have said they want it. A diversified state economy demands it. Poll after poll has demonstrated that New Mexicans want a 21st century economy and want cannabis to be part of it.”
The governor added, “I am disappointed but not deterred by tonight’s committee motion. The door remains open. We will keep working to get it done.”
The governor made legalization a priority this year, saying during the 2020 State of the State address last month that New Mexico is “ready” for legalization. (Read Cannabis Wire’s coverage of the address.)
The latest polling shows strong support for legalization, with 75% of New Mexico residents in favor of adult use cannabis.
When asked about when the push to legalize will resume, the governor’s office told Cannabis Wire that they are “evaluating next steps.”
With such forceful backing, it seemed for a moment that the state would become the latest in the US to fully legalize cannabis—there are now 11 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam that have done so—and the first of several that could do so this year. Legislative and ballot box efforts are underway from New York to Connecticut. Even Mexico, which borders New Mexico, is slated to legalize cannabis this spring.
“We’ll have to see. We certainly wish that New Mexico was also on the path to legalized recreational cannabis, though we hope and plan to be again soon,” Nora Sackett, the governor’s press secretary, told Cannabis Wire.
The bill’s main sponsor, Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, told Cannabis Wire, that the tabling was “disappointing but not unexpected,” and that “within five minutes of the hearing” it was clear that members of the committee “had not read the 180 page bill,” which “produced an extremely frustrating exercise in questions that didn’t get an opportunity to be answered.”
He added, “Despite this disappointing outcome, I still think it was worth introducing this year as it continued a long process of gradually educating legislators on the value of regulating, licensing and taxing cannabis. We have vowed to revamp the bill, simplifying it, eliminating some troublesome aspects and slowly shaping it into a version that will pass next year when a 60-day session will afford a much broader opportunity to get it passed.”
Another one of the bill’s sponsors, Senator Javier Martínez, told Cannabis Wire, echoing the governor, “I’m disappointed but undeterred,” adding, “Legalization is inevitable. I’m proud of the bill – it’s the result of many years of work. We’ll keep moving forward to build the most equitable legalization framework in the country.”