New Mexico may have an opportunity to become one of the next states to legalize cannabis for adult use in 2020.
Governor Lujan Grisham on Thursday announced her support for a measure that would legalize cannabis for adults over the age of 21, create thousands of jobs, and generate millions in needed tax revenue for public services throughout the state.
The new measure, House Bill 160 (HB 160), also known as the Cannabis Regulation Act, stems from a report by the bipartisan Cannabis Legalization Working Group task force that Governor Grisham appointed in 2019 to study the issue of legalization.
The Group conducted more than 30 hours of public meetings and collected more than 200 pages of public comments before putting together a plan for a regulatory framework for testing, public health, and public safety.
“The Legislature has the opportunity to pass the largest job-creation program in New Mexico in a decade,” says Governor Grisham. “Skeptics have been right to preach study and patience. I agree with their caution—and that’s why we haven’t rushed into this issue. But if we are clear-eyed about the risks, we have to be clear-eyed about the opportunity.”
Taking note of how other states have implemented cannabis legalization, HB 160 would set a lowered tax rate at 20 percent to try to keep sales in the legal market while still producing millions in tax revenue.
The proposal includes tax exemptions for medicinal cannabis patients as well, requiring growers to serve them before selling to the adult-use market.
Governor Grisham’s proposal also includes provisions to facilitate intergovernmental agreements with sovereign tribes and pueblos that elect to implement the Cannabis Regulation Act.
According to the Governor’s office, an independent analyst has projected that legalizing cannabis for adult use in New Mexico would create an estimated 11,000 new jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, and retail, and generate up to $630 million in tax revenue by the fifth year.
Polling data from Change Research shows that 75 percent of New Mexicans, regardless of demographics, political lines, and location, are in favor of legalization, and 65 percent support legal cannabis sales in the towns and cities where they live.