New Mexico recreational cannabis bill fails, but Gov. wants to try again in 2020

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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The Governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has vowed to put recreational cannabis legalization at the top of her priority list for the 2020 legislative session.

Her decision comes after a bipartisan bill crumbled without a single Senate vote by the close of a session. According to Grisham, next year’s 30-day legislative session will feature proposals for cannabis reform.

Chances of New Mexico becoming 11th U.S. State to legalize recreational weed are slim

The chances of New Mexico going down in history as the 11th U.S. State – or 12th including Washington D.C. – to embrace complete cannabis legalization are getting slimmer.

New Mexico’s proposed Cannabis Regulation Act would abolish criminal penalties for people caught consuming and/or possessing cannabis. Grisham applauded sponsors of the New Mexico recreational cannabis bill that failed. The bill pushed for a government-led retail structure and funded medical cannabis for patients on a low income.

In the State of New Mexico, major policy issues are selected by the governor at abbreviated legislative sessions that occur on years with even numbers.

While the Governor indicated she wants recreational cannabis to be at the top of the 2020 session list, other states may secure the next spot as the 11th state to legalize cannabis even sooner.

Possession penalties reduced for small amounts of cannabis in New Mexico

Lawmakers recently gave a separate proposal the go-ahead. The bipartisan proposal would cut penalties for possessing small amounts of cannabis.

Introduced by Democratic state Sen. Joseph Cervantes, the measure was passed by both the House and Senate on March 15, 2019.

Based on the details of this measure, the state would impose a fine of $50 on any individual who is caught with half an ounce or less of the plant. The proposal will now progress to Gov. Lujan Grisham.

House-based version of the bill prohibited home cannabis cultivation

Many advocates of legalization feel that the failure of New Mexico’s cannabis measure was deserved, since it simply falls short of proper, complete cannabis legalization.

One of those people is the author of a book centered on legalized cannabis – Too High to Fail. His name is Doug Fine and he feels that the bill just doesn’t delve deep enough into the many aspects of legalization.

The House-based version of the cannabis bill requires the state to oversee and manage distribution. In addition to this, it forbids home cannabis cultivation and requires consumers to carry receipts of anything they’ve purchased inside a legal weed dispensary.

“It’s the worst legalization bill in the nation,” declared Fine. “It’s a human right to grow your own plant.” He described the receipt-carrying provision contained in the bill is “ridiculous.”

“We’ve seen enough good cannabis legislation around the country,” Fine says. “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel.”

Regardless, the floor of the House is the furthest that the bill has ever progressed, indicating that there’s still hope for complete cannabis legalization in New Mexico sometime in the near future.