New Mexico Governor pushes for cannabis legalization in State of the State address

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

During her State of the State address on Tuesday, January 26, New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham urged for the legalization of recreational (adult-use) cannabis. Graham’s annual announcement was delivered virtually due to coronavirus-related social distancing measures. 

Once again, her conversation heavily focused on the economic benefits that cannabis reform could bring to New Mexico; specifically, to create employment opportunities and generate much-needed tax revenue.

“A crisis like the one we experienced last year can be viewed as a loss or as an invitation to rethink the status quo—to be ambitious and creative and bold. That kind of thinking includes, of course, recreational cannabis and the tens of thousands of jobs and hundreds of millions in new revenue it will bring to our state,” she explained during her address. 

Soon after her speech, Grisham further solidified her support for adult-use cannabis legalization in New Mexico with a Twitter update. In her tweet, Grisham wrote that a legal market would result in the creation of “tens of thousands of jobs” and “hundreds of millions in new revenue” for the state.

“I have no interest in another year of thousands of New Mexicans, eager to get to work and make their future in this industry, being told ‘no,’ just because that’s easier than doing the hard work to get to ‘yes’ when we emerge from this pandemic. We can have the same-old economy with the same-old boom-and-bust future, or we can roar back to life, breaking new ground and fearlessly investing in ourselves, in the limitless potential of New Mexicans. I know which future I prefer,” the governor expressed.

New Mexico has issued 700 “brand new” hemp licenses over the last two years 

In a separate tweet that was posted following her State of the State address, Gov. Grisham shared her views on New Mexico’s budding hemp industry. She told her followers that the state has dished out almost 700 “brand-new” hemp licenses over the last two years. 

Collectively, those licenses account for approximately 15 million square feet of indoor cultivation space and almost 10,000 acres of outdoor cultivation space. Despite the fact that growers have been on the receiving end of 700 hemp licenses in New Mexico, data shows that hemp licensing in the state has sunk 31 percent since 2019.

Under the state’s hemp program, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) will be welcoming applications for most of this year’s growing season. Moreover, throughout 2021, the NMDA will be awarding a mix of Annual and Continuous Hemp Commercial Research Production Licenses as per the rules and policies laid out in 2019 and 2020. 

Despite the economic uncertainty that has arisen due to the coronavirus pandemic, Grisham says she is “still really optimistic about cannabis” being legalized this session.

Legislators are working hard to legalize cannabis in New Mexico this year 

With neighboring state Arizona having approved legalization via a voter-approved measure in November, the New Mexico legislature is undoubtedly feeling the pressure to act.

Last year in New Mexico, an adult-use cannabis bill managed to make its way through one Senate committee, but was rejected before the 30-day session’s end.

Prior to this, in 2019, a legalization bill was approved by the House. That particular bill contained provisions to allow cannabis sales in state-run stores, but it fell flat in the Senate.

A Marijuana Moment report that was published on January 25 highlighted Democratic Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth’s optimism for cannabis legalization in New Mexico.

Wirth said he was “feeling more confident” about a legislative change in 2021 and that he continues to engage in conversation with prospective bill sponsors.