New Mexico May Soon Legalize Recreational Marijuana

By Bryan Le 03/11/19

The state’s house voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use, potentially joining the growing number of states that have done so.

Silhouette of marijuana cannabis bushes on a background of bright red sunset.
New Mexico is the latest to consider the legalization of recreational marijuana. Roman Volskiy |

New Mexico could soon become the 11th state in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana. The state’s House of Representatives passed the measure on Thursday despite being voted against by every Republican representative as well as a few moderate Democrats.

The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Javier Martinez (D), believes his bill will get through the senate because he reached across the aisle and worked on it with three senate Republicans.

If passed, the bill would establish a system of sales and taxation modeled after Washington and Colorado, where marijuana has been legal for several years. However, as a compromise with senate Republicans, the New Mexico bill proposes mostly state-run marijuana dispensaries, with private sales being allowed if no state-run dispensaries are nearby.

The legislation could become active as soon as mid-2020, possibly generating $9 million in tax revenue, according to estimates from state budget analysts. This figure is expected to grow to as high as $90 million in 2023.

New Mexico’s Governor, Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, is likely to support the bill—as she ran on a platform “to move towards legalizing recreational cannabis in a way that improves public safety, boosts state revenues and allows for New Mexico businesses to grow into this new market.”

The state senate has only until March 16th to make a move on the bill, which is good news for legalization opponents.

"This is no surprise as legalization bills have passed the New Mexico House before. The bill now heads to the Senate, where there already exists a legalization bill that still has to clear three committees before the session ends next Thursday. While the House has passed this bill, we are confident the Senate will see through the tactics of Big Tobacco and Big Pharma investors and put public health first,” said Luke Niforatos of the anti-marijauna organization Smart Approaches to Marijuana.

Several other states are also considering bills to legalize marijuana, including New Jersey, New York, and Rhode Island. Support for legalization on the federal level is growing, arriving in a wave of Democrats vying for the 2020 presidency who support the end of nationwide marijuana prohibition.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter