Republicans express opposition to recreational marijuana, but industry insiders hopeful ahead of special session

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Republicans are expressing discontent ahead of the special legislative session.

Republican leadership in the Senate has proposed delaying the special session until the fall after claiming they’ve been left out of negotiations to legalize recreational marijuana for adult use.

"To our knowledge, there is still no consensus, and we have not yet seen any of the proposed bills," said Sen. Greg Baca. "Whatever is happening is coming together behind closed doors, and it lacks the transparency New Mexicans want and deserve."

Sen. Craig Brandt, who is the minority whip, believes the process is being rushed.

"The inability of the governor and Democratic leaders to pass a cannabis bill over the past two months is good indicator that they need more time and input," Brandt.

Despite concerns from Republicans, people who work in the marijuana industry are optimistic that a new industry will be formed.

"I feel like the cannabis legislation was really close at the end of the 60-day session," said Ben Lewinger, executive director of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.

Lewinger believes House Bill 12, which got further than any other marijuana bill, should move forward in the special session.

"I think the special session is exactly where this debate needs to happen. I feel like having a discussion around how to legalize cannabis in public where people can tune in to the website where constituent give public comment through committee," he said. "I’m unclear on how postponing a special session would create more transparency, I feel like it would create less transparency."

Rachael Speegle of the Verdes Foundation, a medical marijuana producer and distributor, plans to take join the recreational marijuana industry if lawmakers pass a new law.

"I feel hopeful that were going to get responsible legislation passed," she said. "

Speegle added that she wants to make sure experts are behind the bill, and that it benefits the economy while keeping the community safe.

"Not all of the legislators have been collaborative with the industry. There are some representing private interests and that means their pocketbooks. Yet I’m still very hopeful that there will be an initiative to work in the best interests of the community during this special session and that they will engage with those of us who are putting public policy first before our pocketbooks," she said.