A bill to legalize adult-use cannabis in New Mexico cleared a key Senate committee Jan. 28.
The legislation, introduced in the Senate on Jan. 16 by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque), would legalize adult-use cannabis in the state, automatically expunge many cannabis-related convictions and subsidize medical cannabis for low-income patients, among other provisions.
The initial draft of the bill would also override local governments who are against legalization in an effort to shut down the illicit market, according to U.S. News & World Report.
The legislation now advances to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where its fate is uncertain, the news outlet reported. Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) has expressed concerns about adult-use legalization in the past, according to U.S. News & World Report.
A companion bill has been introduced in the House by Rep. Javier Martinez.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has been largely supportive of cannabis policy reform efforts in the state, and added adult-use legalization to the 2020 legislative agenda earlier this month.
New Mexico lawmakers considered two competing adult-use legalization bills last year, and although one proposal gained House approval and even cleared a Senate committee, the legislation ultimately died in the Senate at the close of last year’s legislative session.
Grisham then recruited policy experts to serve on a work group tasked with providing recommendations on legalization, which were submitted to the governor last fall and incorporated into this year’s legislative proposals.
“This is the future,” New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ben Lewinger told lawmakers, according to U.S. News & World Report. “New Mexico doesn't have time to waste precious years."