Legal Weed Could Bring New Mexico $100m in Taxes and Create 11,000 Jobs
If all goes well, New Mexico could legalize weed by the end of January 2020.
Published on October 21, 2019

A government panel convened at the request of New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has released recommendations for creating a legal adult-use cannabis retail market in the Land of Enchantment.

The Marijuana Legalization Working Group got together last June and just released their 16-page report on adult-use regulation last week. The report proposes a regulatory framework governing how the state should regulate the production and sale of legal weed. Within five years, the report predicts that the market is expected to reach $620 million and create 11,000 new jobs. Combined tax revenue from both the medical and adult-use industries is predicted to bring the state $100 million a year.

Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, chair of the working group, explained that the panel “identified 30 different issues to be studied, reviewed 101 pages of public policy research, answered 279 policy questions, held 30 hours of public meetings, and took in more than 200 pages of public written comment on our website” in order to draft their recommendations.

The report recommends that the adult-use law should include provisions allowing for expungements of minor cannabis offenses. The panel also believes that revenue from recreational sales should be used to fund the state's medical marijuana program. This additional funding would allow medical marijuana to be sold tax free, which is a big improvement considering it's currently being taxed at 7 percent. The funding would also subsidize the cost of medical cannabis for low-income patients.

In addition to funding the state's medical marijuana program, the panel recommends that weed taxes should fund law enforcement efforts to crack down on stoned drivers. Additional tax revenue would also be used to fund programs to ensure equity in the cannabis business and to fund additional housing, job training, and education programs throughout the state.

Gallery — Cannabis Harvest Season:

Many adult-use states allow individual municipalities to “opt out” of allowing legal weed businesses in their jurisdictions, but the panel recommends against this strategy. Arguing that “opt out” laws allow black market dealers to thrive, the group recommends that local governments should only be able to limit legal weed businesses' zoning restrictions and operating hours. 

The panel also recommends restricting home cultivation to prevent weed from being diverted to the black market. Medical cannabis patients would still be allowed to grow their own medicine, but the group recommends that recreational home cultivation should either be banned outright or require a special license.

“Many of the working group’s recommendations reflect [the Drug Policy Alliance’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,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico's director of the Criminal Justice Reform Strategy for the Drug Policy Alliance and a member of the panel, to InsideSources.

Nora Meyers Sackett, Lujan Grisham’s press secretary, told Marijuana Moment that “the governor will be reviewing the recommendations, and the next steps will be to incorporate the recommendations of this working group into balanced legislation and working to win the support of legislators and stakeholders ahead of the session.”

The legislation is expected to propose their adult-use bill during their next legislative session, which begins in January and will only last for 30 days. So, if all goes well, weed could be legal in New Mexico within four months.

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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