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State lawmakers say marijuana legislation is heading for debate in the upcoming legislative session

November 25, 2014, 5:20 pm
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Add another marijuana bill to the upcoming legislative session.

State Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Doña Ana, now plans to introduce a bill to legalize marijuana in New Mexico that is modeled after the legalization measure that voters approved in Oregon earlier this month. Specifically, McCamley’s bill will allow people to store up to eight ounces of marijuana in their homes at a time and grow up to four plants themselves. Full-budded pot would be taxed at $35 per ounce and be adjusted for inflation when necessary. 

McCamley, pictured left, gave a primer of the bill in Santa Fe on Nov. 25 to the Legislative Council Health & Human Services Committee. He pleaded with his colleagues to not “get caught up in stereotypes about what this is and isn’t.”

“This is not a joke,” McCamley said at the hearing. “When people bring up marijuana legalization, people think, ‘Oh, Cheech and Chong, Half-Baked, Reefer Madness, it’s supposed to be funny.’ It’s not funny.” 

Under the bill, 40 percent of those taxes would go to public education, 20 percent would go toward addiction services, 20 percent to local law enforcement, 15 percent to state police and 5 percent for abuse prevention. McCamley added that he would like to see THC percentage labeling on the product, noting that it's similar to alcohol labeling. He also wants to add a provision allowing cultivation of industrial hemp. 

The state Alcohol & Gaming Department would oversee marijuana production. McCamley stresses the importance of oversight to make sure that marijuana revenue is going to the state’s economy, not drug cartels. 

Still, he admits going for a full legalization effort by statute will not likely get far in the upcoming session, which will be presided over by a Republican-controlled House of Representative and a Republican governor. But he says he's introducing the bill to start a discussion. 

State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Bernalillo, plans to again carry a similar legalization bill asking for a constitutional amendment that voters can approve. 

“It’s clear that this is going to happen,” Ortiz y Pino said at the hearing. “The question is when.”

 

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