New Mexico House legislators voted on March 7 to approve recreational cannabis via House Bill 356. Now it is moving on to the Senate for further consideration.
If the bill passes the Senate, New Mexico will soon become the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use. The bill was voted against by every Republican and a number of Democrats in the House, nonetheless the state’s House of Representatives decided to pass the measure against all odds. “This is no surprise as legalization bills have passed the New Mexico House before. The bill now heads to the Senate, where there already exists a legalization bill that still has to clear three committees before the session ends next Thursday. While the House has passed this bill, we are confident the Senate will see through the tactics of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma investors and put public health first,” said Luke Niforatos of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, an organization that is against legalization and commercialization of cannabis. On the other hand, advocacy groups, defense attorneys and the ACLU were among the bill’s supporters.
The Senate will take a decision by March 16, and if the bill passes, it will become effective by July, 2020. If the bill becomes law, the state would follow regulation examples set forth by Washington and Colorado in terms of cannabis sales and tax. However, to cooperate, the bill intends to compromise and allow exclusively state-run dispensaries, permitting private sales only in case there are no state-run businesses in close proximity.
The sponsors of the bill claim that the bill ascertain a secure cannabis market that strictly prohibits underage usage, categorizes impaired drivers and gives employers the authority to retain a zero-tolerance work environment by means of regular drug testing of staff.