NM representative files marijuana legalization bill

Updated: 12/30/2015 6:31 PM | Created: 12/29/2015 8:53 PM
Blair Miller,

A New Mexico state representative has prefiled a bill for the upcoming legislative session that would legalize marijuana and hemp in the state – much in the way Colorado did several years ago.

Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Las Cruces, sponsors the bill, which would allow people aged 21 years and older to purchase and use marijuana legally; would allow the state to regulate growers and distributors; and would allow for the production and sale of industrial hemp in the state, among many other things.

"When you look at Colorado on our other border, they've brought in around $100 million in increased tax revenue, so this is a really good way of hurting drug cartels and helping our business community and our schools at the same time," Rep. McCamley said Wednesday. "A lot of people say let's wait and see what Colorado does. Well how long are we going to wait to see the kind of success that they've had? It's already there!"

The bill, most of which addresses the "Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act," is similar to a bill Rep. McCamley sponsored last session, which was killed in a House committee.

"It's disappointing, but it's not surprising," said Rep. McCamley after last session's bill was killed. "What this is, is the first step in a process. No one has ever come to the state with a framework for how we would make this happen before, and so it's a process."

So McCamley is trying again this session.

Added to the new bill is language further outlining what the bill would not allow – specifically language pertaining to federal land and laws and a portion that says any legalization efforts would not get in the way of state or federal law allowing workplaces to test for marijuana.

But Rep. McCamley still faces an uphill battle, as Republicans in the state have vowed to halt any legalization efforts. Republicans still control the state House of Representatives.

"The message we've gotten so far from the Republican leadership is that no marijuana legislation is going to get taken seriously," McCamley said last session. "As good as that was in the Senate, the prospects for decriminalization, which people really, really want, are fairly poor."

Gov. Susana Martinez has vowed to veto any legalization efforts as well.

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