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Drug Policy Alliance Statement on New Mexico’s Bill to Legalize Cannabis

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January 16, 2020 – New York, NM – Below is a statement from Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, in response to the cannabis legalization legislation (NM SB115) that was introduced today:

“Having worked towards cannabis legalization in New Mexico for the better part of the last decade, we are excited by the possibility for New Mexico to become the 12th state in the country to legalize and regulate cannabis.

Senator Ortiz y Pino and Representative Martinez’s legislation (include hyperlink when it is ready) puts local communities and New Mexican families first. Many of the bill provisions reflect DPA’s priorities, including creating equity in the marketplace, reinvesting back into communities most harmed by prohibition, protecting the medical cannabis program, safeguarding children, and establishing strong consumer protections.

New Mexicans want to do legalization the right way. That starts by: protecting our children and our environment; making sure our roads are safe; putting medical cannabis patients first; and reinvesting back into communities most harmed by prohibition. This legislation invests in substance use disorder treatment and education, prioritizes local small businesses over out-of-state, national marijuana conglomerates, and incentivizes young New Mexicans to stay in the state by training students for this new industry.

Legalizing cannabis for adult use is an opportunity to grow New Mexico, keeping us true to our values and the things we care most about: the wellbeing of our children, community health, a clean environment and the future of our state.”

Highlights of the bill include:

  • Dedicating new revenue to funds to support: public health education about the use of cannabis and how to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people; substance use disorder treatment; housing; job training; and, education programs statewide.
  • Automatically expunging cannabis possession convictions.
  • Creating a licensing model that puts medical cannabis patients first and incentivizes (and requires) adult-use licensees to serve medical patients at the same counters as recreational patients.
  • Eliminating the gross receipts tax for medical cannabis sales.
  • Creating a medical cannabis subsidy program for low income patients.
  • Mandating the development of a plan to help communities and small businesses access capital needed to start and grow NM-based businesses.
  • Allowing for “micro business” licenses that will help small family farms and entrepreneurs enter the market with lower capital costs.
  • Supporting tribal owned businesses.
  • Working with local community colleges on certifications/training to ensure that zip code or income is not a barrier to accessing industry skills.
  • Protecting our state’s natural resources, including mandating a plan by license holders to demonstrate how they will utilize energy and water reduction opportunities, including: drip irrigation and water collection; natural lighting and energy efficiency measures; and renewable energy generation.
  • Mandating that license holders demonstrate that they have a legal right to a commercial water supply, water rights or another source of water sufficient to meet the water needs of their business.
  • Strong consumer protections including rigorous testing standards, childproof packaging, labeling that does not appeal to children and that includes a warning of possible adverse effects of consumption and the contact information for the New Mexico poison and drug information center.
  • Strict advertising rules.
  • Decriminalizing the personal growing of a few plants by removing felony criminal implications for low-level personal production.
  • Allowing persons with previous controlled substance convictions to participate as licensees and/or workers if they are otherwise eligible.

In a statewide poll conducted in November, 73% of New Mexicans supported cannabis legalization. Support reached 90% among Democrats, and 81% among Independents. And fully 49% of Republicans supported cannabis legalization in the poll.


About Drug Policy Alliance

The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes committed against others, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the autonomy of individuals over their minds and bodies. Learn more at


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