Adult-use marijuana advances in New Mexico as panel OKs legalization bill

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Adult-use marijuana legalization appears to be gathering steam in New Mexico under a Democratic-controlled Legislature and a new governor who supports recreational MJ if there are adequate safeguards.

A house panel voted 7-3 to send a recreational marijuana measure to the full House, the first time that’s happened in the state’s history, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

A separate, bipartisan legalization bill that calls for state-run MJ stores versus private retailers has been introduced in the New Mexico Senate. Democrats control both state chambers.

New Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, has said that she would support legalizing adult-use marijuana as long as there are appropriate safeguards against use by children.

Her predecessor, Susana Martinez, a Republican, opposed legalization and restricted the state’s medical marijuana program.

Marijuana Policy Project Executive Director Steve Hawkins, in an interview with Marijuana Business Daily late last year, identified New Mexico as one of the states that could legalize adult-use marijuana in the near future.

House and Senate sponsors of the bills point to the strong public support for legalization.

Here are some key business elements to the House bill:

  • Licenses would be issued for seven general categories: cultivators, processors, microbusinesses, retailers, testing labs, couriers and home growers who cultivate for their own use.
  • Existing medical marijuana operations would be grandfathered in and receive temporary rec MJ licenses by January 2020. Permanent licenses would be issued by January 2021.
  • Cities and counties could opt out or ban commercial sales.
  • Each licensed home grower could cultivate up to six mature plants and six immature plants.

The bipartisan Senate measure stipulates that marijuana sales should be conducted through state-run stores, with licenses issued in January 2021.

Proponents of the Senate measure argue the tight, state-controlled regulatory approach would help keep marijuana products from children.