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New Mexico Telegram » Featured, Health, New Mexico Senate, Roundhouse » Legalize marijuana? Ortiz y Pino exploring options

Legalize marijuana? Ortiz y Pino exploring options

Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, is examining options relating to decriminalization of marijuana in New Mexico — perhaps going even further than just decriminalization and following the lead of Colorado and Washington and legalizing marijuana.

Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican reported on the efforts.

Decriminalization seems like it would be a tough road to navigate in this year’s legislative session. A proposal to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana for personal use did not receive the blessing of the interim Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee. This does not mean that the bill cannot be introduced, but it does show that there is not tremendous support for such a proposal

In order to legalize marijuana, Ortiz y Pino says he would explore a constitutional amendment — similar to what happened in Colorado and Washington.

If a proposed constitutional amendment passes both chambers of the Legislature, it would be put on the next general election ballot — 2014 — to let the voters decide.

Call it a “reeferendum.” And as long as we’re getting silly here, I have to point out that in the Legislature, constitutional amendments are introduced as joint resolutions. (Get it? Get it? OK, enough of that.)

New Mexico does not have a history of referendums for new laws; in 2009, then-Governor Bill Richardson said as much to then-Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White when it came to repealing the death penalty.

“We don’t do legislation in New Mexico by referendum,” Richardson, a Democrat, said during a mid-day news conference at the Capitol today. “The New Mexico public wants us to repeal the death penalty.”

A similar statement could come from Martinez on any such

Photo via dannybirchall/Flickr

Written by

Matthew Reichbach has blogged about New Mexico politics since 2006. Matthew was a co-founder of New Mexico FBIHOP with his brother and part of the original hirings at the groundbreaking website the New Mexico Independent. Matthew has covered events such as the Democratic National Convention and Netroots Nation. In addition to politics, Matthew is an avid sports fan, especially of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and TV fan.

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4 Responses to "Legalize marijuana? Ortiz y Pino exploring options"

  1. Jayelle says:

    “In order to legalize marijuana, Ortiz y Pino says he would explore a constitutional amendment — similar to what happened in Colorado and New Mexico.”

    Should maybe read “Colorado and Washington?”

    1. Yes, it should. Fixed, thank you.

  2. Jayelle says:

    YW. Now I can share it all over the place :-)

  3. Malcolm Kyle says:

    Better hurry up! Legally regulated (manufacture, distribution and consumption) of marijuana is coming to a state near you in 2013:


    “These laws just don’t make sense anymore. It’s shocking, from my perspective, the number of people that we all know who are recreational marijuana users… these are incredibly upstanding citizens: Leaders in our community, and exceptional people.”
    —Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (preparing the way for Governor Jerry Brown to initiate proceedings to legalize and regulate marijuana through the state legislature)


    On January 18th, 2012, House Speaker Joseph Souki and majority leader Scott Saiki introduced legislation that would allow people 21 or older to buy possess and consume small amounts of marijuana for personal use. The bill also authorizes marijuana retail stores and cultivation, manufacturing, and testing facilities.

    Recent polls show that Hawaii residents are increasingly in favor of ending cannabis prohibition, the most recent found that 57% of Hawaii voters believe marijuana should be regulated, taxed, and legal for adults.


    Maine’s legislature is moving on a legalization-and-regulation bill that could bring the state $8 million a year in new revenue.

    ”The people are far ahead of the politicians on this. Just in the past few weeks we’ve seen the culture shift dramatically.”
    —Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, District 120 (Occupation: Public Relations Consultant)


    “Today, marijuana possession is the number one arrest in New York City.” citing the harmful outcomes of these arrests – racial disparities, stigma, fiscal waste, criminalization – and calling on the legislature to act:  “It’s not fair, it’s not right. It must end, and it must end now.”
    —New York Governor Andrew Cuomo


    “Thinking we’re not going to have it is unrealistic. It’s just a question of how and when”
    —Assemblyman Richard (Tick) Segerblom of Las Vegas, elected to the Nevada State Senate in 2012


    “We have decades of evidence that says prohibition does not work and it’s counterproductive. it’s a matter of dollars and common sense. There’s a source of revenue that’s reasonable that is rational that is the right policy choice for our state. We are going to get there on legalization.”
    —Peter Buckley, co-chair of the Oregon state legislature’s budget committee.


    “Like alcohol, legalization and regulation will make marijuana safer. Each year we not only waste a similar amount ($325.36 million), we leave several hundred million dollars on the table in taxes that we do not collect because marijuana is illegal, rather than regulated and taxed. This horrific policy must end. It is a moral imperative that Pennsylvania wakes up and ends prohibition now.”
    —Democrat State Sen. Daylin Leach, while announcing plans to introduce legislation that would legalize marijuana in Pennsylvania.


    Rhode Island is also expected to legally regulate marijuana through the state legislature instead of a popular referendum.

    ”Our prohibition has failed, Legalizing and taxing it, just as we did to alcohol, is the way to do it.”
    —Rep. Edith Ajello, chairs the House Committee on Judiciary and is a member of the House Oversight Committee.


    In November 2012, the state’s Democratic governor, Peter Shumlin, cruised to re-election while strongly backing marijuana decriminalization. And the city of Burlington passed a resolution in November 2012 calling for an end to prohibition – with 70 percent support.


    Most Alaskans already have a clear view of things from their own back garden. Personal use and possession of Marijuana in Alaskan homes has been effectively legal since 1975.