As of today, if you search on the New Mexico Legislature's website for any bills containing the words "marijuana" or "cannabis," a few things come up.
There's a bill pre-filed by Sen. Candace Gould (R-Albuquerque) that would allow students to take medical cannabis in school settings, provided they have certification from the state to use it and permission from the student's parent or legal guardian, and under strict parameters established by a local school board or charter school governing body.
Another, which SFR reported on in December, would grant the same tax exemptions to medical pot that the state extends to prescription drugs. Sponsored by former Sen. Cisco McSorley (D-Albuquerque), this bill would resolve litigation filed by several dispensaries disputing the tax.
There's no bill to legalize cannabis for adult use. At least, not yet.
According to a state representative and a senator, that's about to change.
Rep. Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque) tells SFR he plans to introduce such legislation in the House within days. He's reluctant to offer a timeline, but says its introduction will depend on how quickly the House can run through bills pre-filed before the session.
"[The bill] will legalize recreational use for adults 21 and older," says Martínez, who filed similar legislation in the last session. "We created a department to regulate this new industry, and we will be taxing it, of course. We are taking great steps to protect the medical program and medical cannabis users, in particular by creating a tax-free medical cannabis system, as well as [giving] a subsidy for low-income patients."
In addition, Martínez says the bill will "do stuff around criminal justice reform with regard to those who have been convicted of activities that would otherwise be legal under this bill." Asked if this meant expungement for people convicted of cannabis-related offenses, he said, "something along those lines."
Martínez' counterpart in the Senate, Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque), offered more details about the lead up to the legislation. He plans to file a cannabis bill in his chamber contingent on the House passing its version, which he thinks is likely (a sentiment shared by House Speaker Brian Egolf).
The Senate may be more resistant to the idea, Ortiz y Pino acknowledges. However, he's hopeful that legislation will go over better than his failed attempt back in 2016 to legalize adult-use through a constitutional amendment.
"We met this morning with the governor's staff and they had a lot of questions. We spent about an hour with them," Ortiz y Pino tells SFR. "I think we're good to go."
Phone calls to the transition team of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has expressed openness to signing such a bill into law, were not immediately returned.
The bill in the Senate will likely fold in a provision to remove the gross receipts tax on medical cannabis, Ortiz y Pino says, making McSorley's pre-filed bill moot. It would also create a sub-agency within the Regulation and Licensing Department, which would gradually take on the enforcement role currently housed in the Department of Health for the medical cannabis program.
Before either bill in the House and Senate can go to the floor for a vote, they'll be reviewed by at least two committees in each chamber.
In the Senate, Ortiz y Pino says, "I will request that it go to the Public Affairs [committee] because it's a public health and safety issue, and also the Judiciary Committee because we are challenging the federal government and their position on cannabis," Ortiz y Pino says.
New Mexico would be the 11th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over. According to Ortiz y Pino, if the legislation is signed into law, it would probably be at least a year before a recreational industry is up and running.