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New Mexico Telegram » Featured, Health, Roundhouse » Senator wants to study economic effects of legalizing, taxing marijuana (updated)

Senator wants to study economic effects of legalizing, taxing marijuana (updated)

Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, has introduced a joint memorial that would request a study to examine the economic effects of legalizing and taxing marijuana in New Mexico.

Ortiz y Pino previously introduced a longshot proposal to legalize marijuana.

The New Mexico chapter of the Drug Policy Alliance is supportive of the joint memorial.

“It is time to study how wasteful New Mexico’s punitive marijuana laws are and how they continue to sustain a massive, increasingly violent underground economy, waste scarce law enforcement resources, and rob New Mexico tax-payers of millions in potential revenue,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance, in a statement to the press. “Whether by the hand of lawmakers or a fed-up electorate, these laws are going to change.”

Since the legislation is a joint memorial and not a bill, it would not have to be signed by the governor. Instead, it would ask the Economic Development Department to examine what legalizing, regulating and taxing the marijuana industry in New Mexico would do for the state.

In 2012, two states voted to legalize marijuana — Washington and Colorado. Those states, and the federal government, are debating over what this means since marijuana remains illegal on the federal level.

New Mexico already has legalized medical marijuana, albeit a very restrictive law on the drug, as many other states have. The federal government lists marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which means the federal government, among other things, believes it has no accepted medical use in the United States and is highly addictive. This means that medical marijuana is federally illegal, even if sanctioned by states. There are a total of 18 states, and the District of Columbia, which have medical marijuana programs.

Nationwide polls shown increased support for legalization nationwide. There has been no recent public polling on the issue in New Mexico.

Update (3:50 pm):

“It is time to listen to our American voters who are speaking out in favor of taxing and regulating marijuana like we do alcohol and tobacco,” Ortiz y Pino said in a statement. “Voters understand that monitoring, taxing and regulating marijuana would reduce crime and allow taxpayer monies currently used for marijuana enforcement and prosecutions to be directed to health, education, drug treatment and other state programs.”

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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