ABQ Journal Poll reveals growing support for legal cannabis in New Mexico

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A report conducted and published by the Albuquerque Journal suggests that 61 percent of adult residents support cannabis legalization in New Mexico. In addition to those who support legal weed, 33 percent of respondents dismissed the idea, while the remaining respondents were unsure about how they felt or did not answer at all.

Running from January 31 until February 4, New Mexico’s cannabis poll involved a sample of responses from a total of 515 adult residents. The sample represented diversity in the adult population’s age, gender, race and geographical region; with a margin of error of four percent. The poll was carried out by cellphone numbers (75 percent) and landlines (25 percent).

Based on the results, individuals aged 18-49 were significantly more likely to back an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in New Mexico, as opposed to those aged 50 or above. If legalization were to happen, New Mexico would become the 12th state in the United States to legalize adult-use cannabis. 

“There’s a big divide based on age,” said the president of Research & Polling Inc., Brian Sanderoff. His company conducted the poll. “Attitudes toward [cannabis] legalization are definitely generational.”

Democrats want cannabis legalization in New Mexico more than Republicans

The findings of New Mexico’s cannabis poll indicate an increase in support for legalization from the past. A separate poll conducted in September 2014 revealed that 44 percent of voters approved of legal weed. Four years later, the Albuquerque Journal announced that the figure had crept up to 60 percent.

All of the New Mexicans who participated in the most recent poll identified themselves as either “Democratic” or “Republican.” The results indicated that the vast majority of pro-pot residents were those who fell into the democratic category. Of those who identified themselves as Democrats, 54 percent said they would be happy if the plant was legalized, whereas 23 percent preferred decriminalization and 17 percent disagreed with either. 

Most supporters of cannabis legalization in New Mexico were based in the north-central region; home to places like Santa Fe, the Rio Grande Valley, Los Alamos, Pojoaque, and Taos. Nonetheless, support was felt from every region of the state, which has a population of two million. Moreover, 25 percent of survey respondents admitted to using cannabis within the past year.

Lawmakers are fighting for legal recreational cannabis in New Mexico

The State of New Mexico is taking steps towards becoming a more cannabis-friendly state. On April 3, 2019, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham introduced a law to decriminalize the plant; making it the 24th U.S. state to pass a decriminalization law. Based on the details of this law, possession of up to half an ounce of cannabis is now punishable with a $50 fine.

A month prior to this, a broad bill to legalize recreational cannabis in New Mexico was approved by the House of Representatives. The bill would have regulated cannabis sales and production. It managed to gain approval from the Senate committee, but, unfortunately, fell flat by the time the legislative session was over.

A fresh chunk of legislation was introduced during the 2020 legislative session. Representative Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque) and Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Albuquerque) sponsored the new bill to legalize recreational cannabis in New Mexico House Bill 160; A.K.A. “the Cannabis Regulation Act.” Even though HB 160 flew through one Senate Committee, a news report released on February 12 revealed that the Judiciary Committee had tabled the bill in a 6-4 vote. Nonetheless, Gov. Grisham who has made the bill a focal point of her legislative efforts this year remains optimistic.

“Legalized recreational cannabis in New Mexico is inevitable,” Grisham said after HB 160 was tabled. “The people of New Mexico have said they want it. A diversified state economy demands it. Poll after poll has demonstrated that New Mexicans want a 21st-century economy and want cannabis to be part of it: New Mexicans want more chances to stay here and build a career here; we want justice for those convicted of low-level, harmless cannabis-related offenses; we want an industry with firm and clear regulations that will keep our roads and places of business and children safe.”