Recreational marijuana legalization bill stalls in New Mexico, but could head for special session


New Mexico lawmakers postponed a Senate floor vote on a recreational marijuana legalization bill as the regular legislative session ended Saturday, but the measure may be headed to a special session.

Lawmakers didn’t make the Saturday noon deadline for passing the adult-use measure and sending it to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has been pushing for legalization.

But the governor’s spokeswoman Nora Meyers Sackett indicated Friday evening that Lujan Grisham likely would call a special session of the Legislature if the bill didn’t pass the finish line, the Associated Press reported.

“The governor is prepared to call a special session to get cannabis done and done right,” Sackett wrote in an email. “It’s important enough and we’re close enough that the governor firmly believes it will be worth an extra effort.”

The state House passed the bill, HB 12, last month by a 39-31 vote.

Two state Senate committees amended the measure and advanced it to the full Senate, but Senate leadership decided to focus on other priorities in the regular session’s final hours.

“While we are disappointed that New Mexicans will have to wait a little bit longer to reap the benefits and justice cannabis legalization will provide – especially to Hispanic/Latin, Black, Native and indigenous communities, who have been disproportionately impacted by prohibition – … we applaud Governor Lujan Grisham for acknowledging this cannot wait and indicating she will take up legalization in a special session,” Emily Kaltenbach, a senior director for the Drug Policy Alliance in New Mexico, said in a statement.

The alliance spearheaded the advocacy efforts for adult-use marijuana legalization in the state.

Marijuana Business Daily projects that an adult-use market in New Mexico would generate $125 million in sales in its first full year and $325 million a year by the fourth year. The state has a roughly $200 million medical marijuana market that has been steadily growing.

Retail sales would start as soon as April 1, 2022, according to the latest version of the bill.

The measure provides for opportunities for microbusinesses and funnels some of the tax revenues back into communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

An excise tax of 12% would be placed on sales of adult-use products. Medical marijuana sales would be tax-free.

Jeff Smith can be reached at [email protected].


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