New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino (D-12-Bernalillo) pre-filed Senate Joint Resolution 10 (SJR10) Friday proposing to amend New Mexico’s constitution to tax and regulate marijuana for adult use. SJR10 would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico. If SJR10 passes, both the House and the Senate, the amendment will be placed on the November 2014 general election ballot for the voters to decide.
“New Mexico’s voters should be given the opportunity to decide on this issue. Other states’ experience can help us formulate an approach that will end the problems created by prohibition while protecting juveniles. Because of the disparate impact the failed “war on drugs” has had on minorities and the poor, we are ruining lives, wasting money and missing economic development opportunities,” said Sen. Ortiz y Pino. “
“Instead of supporting the underground marijuana market, let’s create a legitimate market which will generate significant revenue to support such issues as education, public health, and treatment. This is not to mention the profound impact industrial hemp could have on our economy as a source of fiber and ethanol.”
Colorado made world history on January 1 when commercial sales of marijuana become legal for adults. New Year’s Day marked full implementation of Amendment 64, the Centennial State’s ballot initiative ending marijuana prohibition. And, in December, Uruguay became the first country to adopt a marijuana legalization law.
“Smart elected officials on both sides of the aisle are starting to align themselves with voters that support controlling marijuana in new ways. They are realizing that supporting marijuana reform is not a detriment on the campaign trail, and in fact, it can be a key asset to electoral success,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance. “With a majority of New Mexico voters in favor of legalizing marijuana for adults, it is time for our state legislators to listen to their constituents.”
A 2013 state poll conducted by Research and Polling found a majority of New Mexico’s registered voters (52 percent) support legalizing marijuana for adults, so that it could be taxed and regulated in a way similar to alcohol, with restrictions on minors and where it can be purchased, including 50 percent of independents and 60 percent of parents with children under the age of 18. Close to 40 percent of voters say their senator or representative’s position on the issue would not make a difference in how they vote, with 31 percent of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for their legislator if they supported reducing penalties or taxing and regulating marijuana.
Harvard University professor of economics Jeffrey Miron concluded that New Mexico could bring in between $19 – $20.82 million annually in marijuana tax revenues alone and by ending marijuana prohibition, the state of New Mexico could save over $33 million on police, courts and corrections costs of enforcing existing marijuana laws.
“We’ve tried marijuana prohibition for decades, and it’s clearly failed. It hasn’t reduced use and instead has resulted in the criminalization of thousands of gross racial disparities, and enormous fiscal waste,” said Ethan Nadelmann, Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We need to rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms. Tackling these issues will require a vigorous, informed debate, and Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution offers a good starting place for these discussions.”