NEW MEXICO OUTLOOK FOR LEGALIZING RECREATIONAL CANNABIS IMPROVING
December 30 – According to a local New Mexico news outlet, KOB4, state legislators see potential tax revenues from legalized cannabis as a way to address the state’s budget shortfall – currently $200 million.
According to Rep. Bill McCamley (D-Las Cruces), sponsor of a bill in the upcoming legislative session which would legalize recreational cannabis, tax revenues from cannabis could add $60 to $70 million to the state’s budget while saving law enforcement $33 million annually from prosecuting cannabis crimes, allowing it to focus on “real criminals.”
Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque) is also bringing legislation in the form of a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis, by taking the vote directly to New Mexico voters.
New Mexico has a newly-elected Democratic majority in both its House and Senate, so there is a high level of optimism for cannabis legislation getting passed in the next general session. The challenge is that legislation coming from the House and Senate would likely get vetoed by Governor Susana Martinez (R), a staunch opponent of legalized cannabis (medical or otherwise).
So Ortiz y Pino’s amendment would bypass the governor. The key is to get it on the ballot. In October, the Albuquerque Journal conducted a poll which showed that 61% of likely voters would support legalization of recreational cannabis.
Ultra Health, a leading medical cannabis provider in New Mexico, reported in November that the state’s MMJ program’s total patient revenues for the first nine months ending September 30, 2016, exceeded $35.5 million, up 66% over the same period last year. The state’s 35 licensed producers are on pace to $48.4 million in revenues this year. Ultra Health forecasts that cannabis legalization would bring more than 11,000 jobs and $412.5 million in annual sales to the state.