HB 160 SB 115 Cannabis Regulation Act

Why NM Legislators Should Vote for HB 160–SB 115


HB 160-SB 115 Cannabis Regulation Act


Summary:  Sponsored by Senator Ortiz y Pino and Reps. Javier Martinez and Moe Maestas, this bill would legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 or older in New Mexico, and the state could tax marijuana sold in licensed stores, mostly small businesses. The bill sets a 9% excise tax, and allows a municipal cannabis tax and a county cannabis tax of up to 4% each, plus GRT on non-medical cannabis purchases. It would automatically seal certain cannabis-related criminal records and allow for the possible recall or dismissal of the sentence for a person currently incarcerated for cannabis offenses that would no longer be violations under the new law. The Act creates a tightly regulated system of approved licensees with strict rules and regulations, similar to those governing the production and sale of tobacco or alcohol.

History:  The bill has been introduced every year since 2015 in some form. In 2016, a constitutional amendment passed two Senate committees but was defeated on the Senate floor by a 24-17 margin. In 2019, the Cannabis Regulation Act passed the House 36:34, passed Senate Public Affairs, and died in Senate Finance without a hearing.

Why This Bill Is Good for NM

  • Seventy percent of New Mexicans support the legalization of marijuana.
  • In just the first year, it is expected to create 11,000 new jobs and increase the General Fund by about $58 million; an additional $7.6 million would go to the Community Reinvestment Grants Fund, $2.2 million to the Health and Safety Fund, $2.2 million to the Local DWI Grant Fund, and $760K to the Cannabis Research Fund.
  • The Act will end policies that scar low-level marijuana users with a serious criminal history that can prevent them from obtaining scholarships, future job placement, and a prosperous future.
  • It will end marijuana arrests and citations, freeing up law enforcement for more serious offenses.
  • It protects the state’s Medical Cannabis Program by requiring licensees to hold 33% of their product for medical patients and creating a subsidy program to support low-income patients.
  • New Mexico has had a chance to learn from the pitfalls other states have encountered when they’ve legalized cannabis, and precautions are written into the bill: ban public use but make provisions for tourists to have a place to use; require warning labels, childproof packaging, and limit advertising; include provisions that are designed to limit supply so that we do not have surpluses; make sure the medical marijuana program not adversely affected.
  • Opponents fear legalized marijuana would lead to a spike in crime. But marijuana is already one of the lowest priorities in the criminal justice system. Bernalillo County’s top law enforcement officer, 2nd Judicial District Attorney Raúl Torrez, doesn’t view marijuana as substantially affecting public safety now. “It is just not something we see a lot of here,” Torrez said. “In my experience, since being in this office, marijuana is not a driver of serious crimes. Methamphetamine, heroin, and opioids are much more of a contributing factor.”

Supporting Organizations: Drug Policy Alliance; ACLU New Mexico; El Centro de Igualdad & Derechos; My Destiny; NM Criminal Defense Lawyers Association; NM Public Health Association

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  • Vasaloloa Carrazco
    commented 2020-02-13 14:44:21 -0700
    I couldn’t possibly disagree more with passage of these bills. I lived in my van in Boulder, CO, in 2014 shortly after they legalized the “recreational” initiative for cannabis. I left at the end of the year and returned in 2017 to “explore” the possibilities of embarking on a business idea of mine within the cannabis industry. I have always been a strong proponent of legalizing weed on a “national” scale, not on a state-by-state basis! When you do it on a state-by-state basis, some states will not only drag their feet in legalizing, but they may not legalize at all because they can actually benefit in combating the drugs coming into their state from those states that are legalizing! I’m based in the Southeastern quadrant of New Mexico—literally a heartbeat away from the state line with Texas and the Energy Corridor of the country. What we are witnessing is a crime wave like no other we have ever witnessed in our valley. Homicides are up, violent crimes are up, burglaries and shoplifting are rising, and I needn’t tell you just how bad drug addiction has gotten either! Heck, I live in a part of our city where the “foot traffic” of junkies is at an all-time high! I want to discuss this issue from a variety of angles but won’t for the moment because of time and your attention spans. Any time one state passes legislation that may be good for itself, it may not necessarily constitute a benefit to other neighboring states. The good old days weren’t so good for everyone! We have “sunshine” for a blessing, but it could become our curse, if these bills were to pass! Year-round sunshine, warm weather, a “tolerant” community, etc. will only create more incentives for the problems of other states to become “our” problems. We already have a crisis on our hands when it comes to homelessness, panhandling (and the violence associated with it), crime, and poverty. Word travels fast on the streets! It will only be a matter of time before we end up being a haven for homeless snowbirds. I’ve seen it, lived it in Boulder, CO! It’s madness. They opened Pandora’s box, and now, they…like the Dutch…will eventually reconsider their actions and their options. Don’t just listen to the “experts” on either side…learn from those who have lived on the streets for starters! Learn from families who have suffered from their interactions with drugs—and yes, alcohol is definitely one of them. New Mexico has a very good thing going for it with “industrial” hemp and with its medical marijuana system. Expand the medical! Expand the industrial! Don’t just focus on the bottom line without focusing on the added costs of housing more homeless people…more indigent people…more unproductive members of society, etc. I keep hearing the same nonsense argument…and I don’t agree that it’s all about the Benjamins! Keep on creating more and more incentives to reap the “perfect storm” that we can do without. Let’s tackle the problems we already have instead of adding to the burden of those problems for our state!