Lawmakers renew push to legalize marijuana in New Mexico

(KRQE/File Photo) marijuana plant; close-up generic

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The push to legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico is being revived by legislators.

State lawmakers behind the idea say their only hurdle is getting marijuana legalization on the ballot for voters to decide. That means getting a majority of legislators on board.

The senator behind the bill says the goal is to legalize and regulate the drug. He believes if New Mexico joins the trend, it would significantly boost the economy.

“What we would hope is to regulate it and therefore control it more effectively,” Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino said.

State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque) has been trying to legalize marijuana in New Mexico for the past several years, but his efforts have failed each time.

During the 2017 Legislative Session, Ortiz y Pino’s resolution was tabled in committee when two Democrats expressed opposition. Both said they knew people with drug problems, but Sen. Ortiz y Pino says his goal is not to enable drug addicts.

“Legalizing marijuana wouldn’t make it more available. It’s already available. Any high school kid worth their salt can find marijuana within a half-hour,” he said.

He’s determined to persuade other lawmakers to get on board this year. He just needs a two-thirds majority in both the Senate and the House to get the measure on the ballot for voters to decide. The governor would not be involved.

The resolution states anyone 21 and older would be able to use and buy marijuana legally. People KRQE News 13 spoke to believe legalizing pot would only benefit the state. Read the resolution >>

“Get out of some of the deficits and it’s less addictive than all the drunk drivers we have constantly,” Brad Nunn said.

“Tax-wise, the state will make money. I mean, it’s a win-win for everybody I should say,” Ronald Padilla said.

“It’s going to benefit the state a lot if they realize legalizing marijuana would help out,” Jimmy Moya said.

So far, eight states have legalized pot for recreational use, including Colorado and most recently, California.

If it passes and voters sign off on it in November, marijuana would only be legalized the legislature passes laws on how it should be grown, sold and taxed.

Ortiz y Pino says those bills would be introduced in 2019.

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