Last updated on 18 September 2021
The legalization of Marijuana has been a controversial subject for years. Many states have legalized the use and possession of marijuana as well as limited sale and consumption. In New Mexico, lawmakers are proposing a workgroup to study possible legislation regarding marijuana legalization. The workgroup would be made up mostly of state officials and include experts from other fields who may be able to provide input on potential implications for taxation, banking services, and law enforcement.
An Overview of the Workgroup, Including Their Mission and Members
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has appointed a workgroup to study the legalization of marijuana and make recommendations in 2019. The governor’s office announced Wednesday that it had created an 11-member Marijuana Legalization Work Group, which will also consider how New Mexico could regulate the use and sale of recreational cannabis. The panel includes five members from state agencies such as Health, Public Safety, and Administration; four members from advocacy groups such as Planned Parenthood NM; three legislators; one member with experience working in law enforcement; plus one citizen representative who is not affiliated with any organization or agency. Here is more about the workgroup.
A Summary of What They Have Accomplished So Far In Their Research
The work group’s establishment is part of Governor Grisham’s 2019 legislative agenda. The study would be led by Secretary of the Department of Health, Dr. David Scrase, with assistance from other state agencies, including Health, Public Safety, and Administration as well as independent experts in law enforcement, health care, substance abuse prevention and education, criminal justice, and youth development. It will be a key part of the legislature’s debate over whether to legalize cannabis in 2019.
The workgroup had until July 1st, 2020, to complete its study and provide recommendations on how New Mexico should move forward with marijuana legalization efforts. The group would study every aspect of taxation, banking services for legal cannabis businesses, law enforcement, marketing, and youth education to determine what legalization may look like in New Mexico.
The History of Marijuana Legalization in New Mexico
Early in the 20th century, marijuana became a very controversial topic and was demonized by many people. At the time, it began to be considered a narcotic and was made illegal in several states. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 criminalized all non-medicinal cannabis, hemp, and cannabis products nationwide. In addition, the act required all dealers of the drug to pay an excise tax of a dollar in addition to a quarter per ounce sold on Cannabis Sativa. This monopoly on legal cannabis was maintained until 1951 when Harry J. Anslinger, who had been appointed as commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics by President Warren G. Harding, ended the prohibition on marijuana.
Marijuana first became illegal in New Mexico during the state’s first legislative session in January 1912; however, its first regulation was not until 1915 when the state required all cannabis dealers to be licensed and pay an annual tax of $1.00 per ounce sold (New Mexico Statutes Annotated, 1978). The drug remained unregulated until 1933, when the state created a temporary study committee to explore regulating marijuana. Ultimately, lawmakers decided not to regulate it, and no further action was taken on the subject for over 30 years.
In September 1970, New Mexico’s legislature formed another study committee that dug into the idea of legalizing marijuana. This time, the committee appointed a subcommittee to look into the possibility of legalizing marijuana for recreational use. In June 1971, after two months of studying both sides of the issue, members voted unanimously to recommend against legalization. Legislators did approve a bill in September 1971 that provided a legal defense for Cannabis Sativa patients who needed it for medical purposes.
In April 1975, the Committee on Crime and Corrections issued a report that once again examined the idea of legalizing marijuana. Lawmakers ultimately decided to keep it illegal after much debate over whether to decriminalize or legalize the drug. In 1978, New Mexico repealed its laws prohibiting marijuana possession for personal use. The law reduced penalties for people under 18 years old using cannabis to the same level as alcohol possession. It did not make it legal for adults to use marijuana, however.
In 1981, New Mexico passed legislation that made it illegal to drive under the influence of any drug. The law also specifically prohibited using cannabis while driving or riding in a vehicle (Marijuana Laws 1911 – 2015).
There have been various legislative laws passed concerning marijuana and cannabis in general. These are just highlights.
Why Do People Want To Legalize Marijuana
There are many reasons why people want to legalize marijuana. Some of these reasons include its medicinal purposes, benefits for business and how it would help the economy, and the tax revenue. Here is more.
1. People Want More Control
The issue of legalizing marijuana in the state has been met with much controversy. There are those who support legalization efforts because they want to have more control over what is put into their bodies. If people were allowed to use cannabis for recreational purposes, they would make better decisions about their health and wellness that directly affected them.
2. People Want More Control over Their Finances
Along with making better decisions about their health and wellness, legalizing marijuana would also help people control their finances. Marijuana is still illegal at the federal level, which means that there are severe restrictions on banking within the cannabis industry (Cannabis Banking). Without the ability to create an official banking system, many people in the industry are forced to operate under the table, making them vulnerable to dangerous situations like robbery and violence. There would be more opportunities for cannabis-related jobs if states had more control over what they could do with their land.
3. More Access to a Natural Plant
Many people who support legalizing marijuana believe that it is a natural plant that has been around for much longer than any other illegal substance. The idea of making cannabis illegal when there are other drugs like opiates and alcohol that people can legally access does not make sense to them. Those who support legalizing marijuana in New Mexico point out that cannabis was used by ancient civilizations long before it was considered a dangerous drug.
4. Legalization Would Help End Racial Inequalities
Many people support legalizing marijuana in New Mexico because they feel it would help end racial inequalities. Drug arrests have become very problematic for minorities and young adults in society today, especially when they are found with small amounts of cannabis on their person. While those convicted of dealing hard drugs face much harsher penalties, people caught with a small amount of marijuana often receive little to no punishment. Black and Hispanic individuals make up over 80% of all people arrested for drug violations (legalization would end racial inequalities).
5. Protection for Children and Patients
Many people who support legalizing marijuana in New Mexico think that legalization would protect their children and patients. The idea is that it would give doctors the ability to prescribe cannabis as a form of treatment without worrying that they will be breaking federal law. It would also allow parents to use medical cannabis to relieve their children’s pain and allow them to live a longer and more fulfilled life.
How the Legalization Affect the Economy
Legalizing marijuana would offer a boost to the New Mexico economy. Whether it was for recreational or medicinal purposes, people would be willing to purchase cannabis if it was legal and readily available. The money that they would spend could go towards creating jobs and improving infrastructure in the state. There would also be more tax revenue coming into the government through cannabis sales.
How the Legalization Affect Society
In addition to helping create a healthier society, legalizing marijuana would also benefit New Mexico in so many ways. Some people think that legalization could help reduce violent crime and drug-related homicides throughout the state. It would also support environmental protection efforts through cannabis farming and help provide more funding for public schools. Also, there would be more economic opportunities for people trying to get off the streets by starting their own home businesses.
Legalization could help New Mexico in so many different ways. It could improve the economy and benefit society in countless other ways as well. Legalizing marijuana seems like it should be a no-brainer.
Legalizing Marijuana in New Mexico is a discussion that will never end. There are many different reasons why people support legalizing marijuana in New Mexico. Some feel that it would make it safer for people to use cannabis, while others believe that legalization would help provide better access to a natural product. People also think that legalizing weed would offer more protection for children and patients and end racial inequalities in the system. On the flip side, some feel that legalizing the product would endanger them and increase instability. According to research, legalizing it ultimately has more pros than cons.