Cannabis Legalization Bill Introduced in New Mexico

Press Release January 24, 2019
Media Contact

Tony Newman 646-335-5384
Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256

Today Representative Javier Martínez and co-sponsors Rep. Antonio Maestas, Rep. Daymon Ely, Rep. Deborah Armstrong, and Rep. Angelica Rubio introduced HB 356, which would create a system to tax and regulate cannabis responsibly for adults 21 and over to enjoy using recreationally.

The legislation includes strong public health and safety provisions, while directing new tax revenues to road safety, research, and education. The bill would also reinvest funds in communities disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs and problematic drug use.

Statement from Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance:

“We have the chance to pass an innovative legalization bill that stays true to New Mexican values and what we care most about: the wellbeing of our children, healthy and safe communities, and a stronger economic future.   Cannabis prohibition has fueled mass criminalization and we have an ethical obligation to repair the disproportionate harms inflicted on Latino, Black and Native people. 

“This legislation is responsive to the lives of New Mexicans, not solely business interests.  New Mexicans agree that prohibition of cannabis has failed and we must replace it with a responsible, regulated system that reinvests in our children and communities.”

House Bill 356 would:

•    Reduce impacts of criminalization disproportionately affecting low-income people and communities of color.
•    Protect access to medical cannabis by eliminating gross receipts tax for medical sales, requiring all commercial licensees to also sell medical, and creating a subsidy program for low-income patients.
•    Establish employment protections for medical cannabis patients in the workforce.
•    Automatically and retroactively seal certain cannabis-related criminal records.
•    Allow for the possible recall or dismissal of a person’s sentence who is currently serving time behind bars for a cannabis violation that has become legal.
•    Implement quality control and consumer protections to safeguard public health.
•    Allow counties and cities to opt out of commercial cannabis sales.
•    Prohibit retail cannabis sales to anyone under 21.
•    Establish a licensing structure that favors small businesses, thus creating space for entrepreneurial efforts in rural areas as well as job opportunities for people in disproportionately impacted communities.
•    Establish a 9% surtax on cannabis sales, directing millions of dollars to the local DWI grant fund for cannabis research, public education about cannabis, and community grants for workforce training, substance misuse treatment, mental health treatment, and youth drug education and prevention.
•    Generate approximately $40 million in new tax revenue and create over 11,000 jobs in just the first year.

A May 2018 poll conducted by Research and Polling found that 63% of New Mexico adults said they support a proposed bill in New Mexico to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis sales to adults 21 and over – with 46% indicating “strong support”, an increase of 6% from 2016.

Ten states and the District of Columbia have now ended cannabis prohibition. Those jurisdictions have reduced their overall court filings for cannabis offenses by 94%. They have utilized the much-needed revenue to rebuild crumbling infrastructure, support education, and invest in communities. A growing body of research also demonstrates how access to legal cannabis can be a powerful tool for reducing opioid-involved overdoses—with 25% drops in overdose deaths in states with legal frameworks for cannabis.      




A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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