Gov. remains mum on hemp bills

At the midpoint of New Mexico’s legislative session, bills that would legalize hemp research are moving at a clip through both chambers. But the governor’s not saying whether she’ll sign bills that would establish rules for cultivating the plant and a research fund at a state university, and remove hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Senate bill 6 has one more hearing in a House committee before it heads to the House floor for a final vote. The bill establishes a research and development fund at New Mexico State University and removes cannabis plants cultivated for industrial hemp from the definition of “marijuana” in the Controlled Substances Act. The bill’s sponsor, Cisco McSorley, D Albuquerque, touts the economic benefits of researching hemp in the state.

Cannabis industry campaign contributions grow

The nascent cannabis industry donated more than $52,000 to New Mexico candidates and political action committees in 2015 and 2016. The largest donor, Ultra Health, hopes to see lawmakers increase plant limits for medical marijuana providers this session. The Legislature is also considering bills that seek to legalize marijuana. The first, House Bill 89, is scheduled for a committee hearing Saturday. Eight states and the District of Columbia allow adult use of cannabis, while 25 allow medical use of the drug, which is still illegal under federal law.

New Mexico legal cannabis customers would number 250,000, economist says

New Mexico would have about 250,000 potential customers of cannabis should the state legalize adult recreational use of cannabis, an economist told the Senate Corporations and Transportation Committee yesterday. And those consumers would purchase roughly $412 million worth of the drug in the first year. The data was produced by Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, an economist who served as Director of State Tax Policy, Deputy Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development, and Superintendent of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department during Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration. She now works as a consultant. Her report was commissioned by Ultra Health, a New Mexico provider of medical marijuana.

State will weigh cost, benefits of recreational cannabis legalization

With a budget crisis confronting the New Mexico Legislature, some legislators plan to float a controversial idea gaining momentum across the nation: Legalize the adult use of recreational marijuana, or cannabis. Adult recreational use is now allowed in eight states plus the District of Columbia, and more than 25 already authorize it for medicinal purposes. And in 2016, after three years of being bogged down in Senate committees, an effort to legalize recreational use in New Mexico made it to the Senate floor for a vote. Last year’s Senate Joint Resolution 5, sponsored by Democratic Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque, asked voters to amend the state’s constitution to allow possession and personal use of cannabis by people 21 years or older. It would also have regulated production and sale of cannabis, and allowed collection of a tax on the sale of the drug.

New Mexico In Depth Special Edition: 2017 Legislative Session

New Mexico In Depth’s coverage of the New Mexico 2017 Legislative Session kicks off with this special edition covering a range of issues:

Campaign finance reform, Capital Outlay, and Ethics Reform
Impact of budget crisis on child welfare programs
Cannabis legalization for adult recreational use
Demographics of the legislature

Newspapers around the state published this special edition the first week of the session: Santa Fe New Mexican, Las Cruces Sun-News, Farmington Daily Times, Carlsbad Current Argus, Alamogordo Daily News, Rio Grande Sun, Silver City Sun-News, Deming Headlight, and the Ruidoso News. Be sure to follow our coverage throughout the session, here on our site and as part of a special project called People, Power, and Democracy, in collaboration with our partners–KUNM Public Radio, New Mexico In Focus, and the UNM News Port.