SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – As it gets closer to the end of the year and closer to the next legislative session, state lawmakers are starting the push, again, to legalize marijuana.
On Wednesday afternoon, House Speaker Brian Egolf hosted his bi-weekly online forum, ‘Live From Home’, on Facebook Live. This week he was joined by Representative Javier Martinez to talk about their efforts to legalize recreational marijuana this upcoming session.
“As this country moves toward a better understanding of cannabis, as public opinion shifts particularly with of younger generations, I think we are in a very special place in terms of legalization,” Rep. Javier Martinez said during the Facebook Live.
Despite polls showing most New Mexicans support legalization and the state legislature having a Democratic majority the past four years, the idea has failed to get through the roundhouse. But Rep. Martinez said he’s optimistic it will get through this next session for a number of reasons, including what he expects to be a more open-minded legislature after election day.
“We feel very confident that the makeup of the legislature in 2021 will be one in which we can really have these discussions in an open transparent way and where we can pass one of the most [sic] bold legalization frameworks in the country,” he said. “I think the support if it’s not there, there’s at least an open mind to it. And that’s what I feel confident about.”
He also said since the legislation is years in the making, making for a comprehensive bill with ‘no stone left unturned.’ Lastly, he said the main driver could be the state’s sagging oil industry.
“Oil and gas being the very volatile source of income that we have and that we rely upon, being where it is, I think that bringing in a new industry that could potentially bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues to local and state agencies is, is the utmost importance and we would be foolish not to look at this industry and really capitalize on it,” Rep. Martinez said.
Last session, the 173-page Senate Bill, which covered how to tax marijuana and even how many shops each city wanted, was tabled.
Rep. Martinez said the new bill being proposed will be similar to ones in the past but puts more focus on the licensing structure to embed equity measures and make sure everyone can get in on the industry if passed.
The next legislative session will be 60 days and starts on January 19. All 112 House and Senate are up for election next month.