Even before the push to legalize cannabis in New Mexico ramped up this legislative session, one potential hurdle that was top-of-mind for key lawmakers was, simply, time.
“Time is always a problem for big bills like this one,” Rep. Javier Martínez, who proposed the adult use legalization bill favored by reform advocates, HB 12, told Cannabis Wire ahead of the bill’s introduction.
Indeed, while HB 12 passed the House, the bill didn’t budge in the Senate before the end of the legislative session on Saturday. Unlike years past, though, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has been a vocal supporter of cannabis legalization for years, has decided to call a special session to see adult use over the finish line.
“Rushing through amendments in the final hours of a session, when there’s a mountain of other very important work to be done, is not the right way to do something of this magnitude,” Lujan Grisham said in a statement. But, she continued, “we are very close. And we will finish the job.”
At the start of the session, there were two adult use proposals in the House and three in the Senate. While HB 12 was ultimately the bill that prevailed, it was amended several times.
One recent amendment, for example, is to set the start date for adult use sales on April 1, 2022. Early amendments included reducing penalties for underage use, and removing specific earmarks for cannabis tax revenue, which Martínez described at the time as “putting the cart before the horse.” The bill still calls for the creation of a fund to reinvest cannabis tax revenue into specific communities, and it still allows for home cultivation.
Adult use in New Mexico has gained more traction this year than in years past. Last year, adult use was tabled in the Senate. Martínez, who has been working on adult use legislation focused on equity for years, told Cannabis Wire in January, “I believe the path toward legalization has opened up more so than ever before.”
Even so, Martínez didn’t foresee a special session focused solely on cannabis. “Special sessions are hard to come by, it’s very difficult and very rare to have one. I don’t believe we would ever have a special session on cannabis, at least not specifically on cannabis,” he said at the time.
Lawmakers will reconvene for the special session “roughly” on March 31, according to the governor’s statement.
“I look forward to continuing to work with lawmakers to get the job done and done right,” she said.