Election might have boosted NM adult-use marijuana legalization hopes

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The prospects for recreational cannabis legalization in New Mexico appear brighter after two key conservative Democratic state Senate leaders lost primary elections this week.

Senate President Mary Kay Papen and Senate Finance Committee leader John Arthur Smith were defeated by progressive candidates Carrie Hamblen and Neomi Martinez-Parra, respectively.

Hamblen and Martinez-Parra are favored to win in the general elections in November.

Papen has long expressed reluctance about legalizing recreational marijuana, and Smith’s committee was known for being a tough hurdle for legislation.

“I’m one of those who sort of stopped the train,” Smith told the Albuquerque Journal.

Although more progressive Senate leadership could help clear the way for legalization in 2021, some obstacles remain.

Legalization was thwarted this year in part because of an overly complicated bill, according to Ultra Health, the state’s largest medical marijuana operator.

But Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, is pushing for legalization as part of an effort to diversify the state’s economy and move away from traditional oil and gas.

– Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily