In Historic Vote, Cannabis Legalization Bill Passes New Mexico’s House of Representatives

Press Release March 8, 2019
Media Contact

Emily Kaltenbach 505-920-5256

Last night, the Cannabis Regulation Act passed the New Mexico House of Representatives by a vote of 36-34. The bill is sponsored by Representative Javier Martínez and co-sponsored by Rep. Antonio Maestas, Rep. Daymon Ely, Rep. Deborah Armstrong, Rep. Angelica Rubio and Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino.   

Statement from Representative Javier Martinez:

“Legalizing and regulating the cannabis industry is the single most important thing we can do to dismantle international drug trades. The ‘War on Drugs’ hasn’t worked; the fight against those who are trafficking drugs into our country begins with legalization and regulation. This is our chance to lead the nation with a framework that protects medical cannabis patients, ensures public safety, and advances social justice for low income, communities of color.”

Statement from Senator Cliff Pirtle:

“With the legalization of cannabis on the horizon, the NM legislature, in a bi-partisan effort, moved this issue forward. Many concerns were debated in regards to cannabis, and this bill addresses many of those concerns. This bill is the best example of a balance of freedom and regulation that now has a good chance of passing the Senate.”

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

“Tonight’s vote on the House floor was historic. Not only did legalization of cannabis pass a NM legislative chamber for the first time in our state’s history, it was a bi-partisan effort. Cannabis reform was an issue that was untouchable just a few years ago. After tonight’s debate, I’m even more optimistic this bill has a path to the Governor’s desk. 

“The New Mexico House of Representatives voted in favor of legalizing cannabis for the right reasons – to better restrict minors’ access to cannabis, protect public health and safety, protect accessibility for those with medicinal needs, and reinvest in communities most harmed by prohibition. This legislation is responsive to the lives of New Mexicans, not solely business interests. HB 356 directs reinvestment into communities most harmed by prohibition, harm that has fallen hardest on Hispanic/Latino, Black and Native populations in New Mexico. Repairing the damage done by cannabis prohibition is not negotiable and HB 356 includes provisions that do just this. It is time to stop criminalizing people for cannabis and begin to realize the economic and social benefits of having cannabis possession and sales regulated in New Mexico.”

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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