New Mexico adult-use marijuana bill advanced by state House panel

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A New Mexico legislative committee Monday advanced a social equity and microbusiness-focused adult-use marijuana legalization bill while tabling a more industry-oriented measure.

The early step indicates what direction the Legislature appears to be headed and reflects a pronounced national trend to include social justice and equity provisions in virtually every recreational legalization effort.

The New Mexico House Health Committee advanced House Bill 12 by a vote of 7-4 to the House Tax Committee. House Bill 17, which didn’t include social justice provisions, was tabled.

HB 12 calls for rules to be developed by Jan. 1, 2022, and license applications to be accepted by July 1, 2022. Existing medical marijuana operators in the state could start adult-use sales on Oct. 1, 2021.

“New Mexicans are absolutely ready to see marijuana legalization become a reality in the state, but they have made it clear that repairing the damage done by the drug war is non-negotiable,” Emily Kaltenbach, the Drug Policy Alliance’s senior director for New Mexico, said in a statement.

The Drug Policy Alliance has been the advocacy lead for legalization efforts in the state.

The legislation pushed by the alliance would:

  • Create a microbusiness license category to provide opportunities for small New Mexican companies ahead of other applicants.
  • Require the state to create a plan to ensure licensing diversity.
  • Invest a significant portion of revenue generated by cannabis sales back into communities most harmed by the war on drugs.
  • Enable Native American communities to participate in the recreational market through agreements with regulators.

“Any legislation considered this session must reinvest back into communities most harmed by drug prohibition, particularly Hispanic/Latino, Black and Native populations in New Mexico,” Kaltenbach said.

Legalization efforts have failed in the past couple of years, but experts believe New Mexico is ripe to legalize adult-use this year.