Updated: January 23, 2021 09:58 AM
Created: January 22, 2021 09:29 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.- Days into the 2021 legislative session, and no bills about recreational marijuana have been filed.
However, creating the new industry in New Mexico may be closer than it appears. A lot of work is being done behind the scenes.
Rep. Javier Martinez has backed a recreational marijuana bill every year he's held office, and he's working on it again this year.
"It's a big, complicated bill," Martinez said. "We are wrapping up the final touches. This is a bill, at this point, five years in the making."
Martinez said the bill focuses on three fundamental principles.
"The first one is protecting and enhancing the medical cannabis program which has been a godsend for many patients across the street," Martinez said. "The second principle is ensuring equity in the way we build out this industry, particularly repairing the war on drugs of people of color, and last but not least ensuring we have a smart regulatory and taxation framework, so we're not over taxing an industry that's just getting off its face so that the regulations are not overly burdensome on particularly the small business aspect of this industry."
There is a lot that will not be included in the bill, according to Martinez.
"The biggest change you'll see in this bill which is one of the main points of contention last year was the creation of a number of different funds, earmarks, tax coming in from cannabis," he said.
Martinez was talking about what he and New Mexico cannabis chambers call the "obstacles," like earmarks, restorative justice, social equity, and community investment pieces- things that could be left for rule making.
What's left is a regulatory framework and tax structure.
Martinez feels there will be a positive response from both chambers, and potentially both sides of the aisle.
However, the DEA believes there is plenty of work for them to do when states legalize recreational marijuana.
"It does increase the black market," said Special Agent Kyle Williamson.
He wonders how the industry, the opioid crisis, teenagers, an increase of violent crimes, trafficking across states, enforcement and prosecution.
Despite the concerns, marijuana bills are expected to be filed as early as next week.
The governor has said she supports recreational marijuana, saying it will create jobs and generate millions of dollars for the local economy.
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