History was made in New Mexico this week when a legislative committee voted in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico. The committee voted 5-4 and the Senate Joint Resolution 2 (SJR2) passed the Senate Rules Committee. SJR2 legalizes the possession and use of marijuana by persons over the age of 21.
“Today’s vote sets in motion the process to put the issue on a 2016 statewide ballot for voters,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Marijuana prohibition in New Mexico has clearly failed. It hasn’t reduced use and instead has resulted in the criminalization of people, gross racial disparities, and enormous fiscal waste. Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution will allow our legislature rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms.”
The Sky Did Not Fall
New Mexico’s neighbor to the north, Colorado, has been at the forefront of marijuana legalization and the state generated over $75 million in tax revenue and fees from medical and recreational marijuana during 2014. New Mexico has kept a close eye Colorado and they watched the industry progress over the course of 2014.
The sky did not fall when Colorado legalized recreational marijuana. Crime went down and tax revenue went up. Denver saw a decrease in violent crime rates in 2014, which follows a similar trend in 2013. The Colorado Department of Transportation reported that statewide traffic fatalities declined during 2014 and the state is enjoying its lowest unemployment rate in years.
“Today is an historic day for New Mexicans,” said Brett Phelps, president of the University of New Mexico’s chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP). “Our legislature has taken a courageous step towards creating a sensible policy for regulating and taxing marijuana in New Mexico. This is an issue that should be decided by the people and SJR 2 will allow New Mexicans to do just that.”