New Mexico Democrats Choose Pro-Cannabis U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham as Nominee for Governor

New Mexico Democrats Choose Pro-Cannabis U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham as Nominee for Governor

Grisham has called for a study of other states’ recreational markets.

June 6, 2018

U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham will face U.S. Rep. Steve Pearce in New Mexico’s gubernatorial election this fall. Unofficial poll results placed Grisham well ahead of the two other Democratic candidates, with 116,159 votes.

While Grisham was not the most ardent cannabis legalization supporter among the field of Democratic primary contenders, she has walked a pragmatic line and called for expanded health and safety regulations for the state’s medical marijuana market. Looking more broadly into the future, she has also insisted that New Mexico lawmakers take a close look at other states’ adult-use markets before moving forward with any legislation of their own.

“I am committed to working with the legislature to move toward legalizing recreational cannabis in a way that improves public safety, boosts state revenues and allows for New Mexico businesses to grow into this new market,” Grisham said in a public statement earlier in the campaign. She was the head of the state’s Health Department when its medical marijuana program began in 2007.

Grisham is also a co-sponsor for the CARERS Act in Congress, which would allow the growing and processing of certain cannabidiol products in accordance with state law.

If she wins in November, Grisham would become the second Latina woman elected to governor in the U.S. (after incumbent New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez.)

Grisham’s Democratic opponent in the June 5 primary, Jeff Apodaca, had made adult-use legalization a tentpole of his campaign. "We know the medical benefits of it. And we also know the opportunities of legalization for adult use," he recently told the Associated Press. (Apodaca received 38,750 votes, according to unofficial vote counts.)

Mirroring elections across the U.S. this fall, Grisham will have an opportunity to make cannabis a flagship debate topic between her and Pearce. The Republican nominee opposes legalizing cannabis. "Steve wants to tackle poverty at its core and legalizing recreational drug use only places obstacles in front of the most vulnerable New Mexicans, such as unemployed workers who need to pass a drug screening as a condition of potential employment," a campaign spokesman for Pearce told the Las Cruses Sun-News. "Other states have legalized recreational drug use and it's clear that such a policy comes at a cost to the state and to communities."

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