New Mexico is stalemated over hashish legalization

Discussions over the legalization of cannabis in the state of New Mexico have stalled in the past week, leaving many skeptical as to whether a meaningful compromise will be reached.

A cannabis legalization hearing was scheduled for last Sunday before being removed from the agenda minutes before the hearing began.

Disagreements between lawmakers and advocates of legalization included the nationwide tax rate, pardons for criminals arrested on drug charges, and licensing procedures. State Senator Cliff Pirtle (R) is pushing for stricter cannabis taxation processes, greater efforts to combat the state’s illegal cannabis market, and removing as many barriers to entry as possible for entrepreneurs entering the cannabis industry.

What New Mexico Legalization Proponents Are Saying

Proponents of the legislation say passing it would help ease the burden on the economy following the coronavirus pandemic. Proponents of the House Legalization Bill passed by the New Mexico House of Representatives argue that passing marijuana legalization must include some form of social justice provision to help disproportionately affected communities. State Representative Javier Martinez (D), one of the House Representatives who drafted the bill, stressed the need to support communities that have seen major arrests and convictions related to marijuana.

Legislators have until March 20 to agree on the terms for legalizing marijuana before sending it to the governor for final approval. There are still days to go before this legislation has final approval, and while Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has made cannabis legalization a top priority to fight poverty rates in the state, the chances of success for marijuana legalization plans in New Mexico are slim.

However, if approved, New Mexico would join Vermont, Illinois and – once in place – Virginia as states that have legalized marijuana through legislative means rather than through an electoral initiative.

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