A bill to create a framework for the regulation of legal recreational cannabis by adults was introduced Thursday in the New Mexico Senate.
Sens. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell; Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho; Mark Moores, R-Albuquerque; Gerald Ortiz Y Pino, D-Albuquerque; Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque; and John Sapien, D-Corrales, sponsored Senate Bill 577 (SB 577) — the Cannabis Regulation Act — according to the website of the New Mexico Legislature.
Pirtle said in an interview that he and the other sponsors of SB 577 have evaluated what states that have legalized recreational marijuana have done and decided to craft a bill that tackles all the social concerns associated with it and keep it out of the hands of children.
Current law only allows for legal cannabis for medicinal purposes in New Mexico, but since 2012 the District of Columbia and 10 other states have legalized the recreational use of marijuana by adults.
“Legal cannabis is inevitable, this legislation provides a responsible way to that end,” Pirtle said in a statement Friday.
The legislation allows for the sale of retail cannabis in state-managed facilities, but does not permit people to grow their own cannabis for personal use.
A state agency known as the Cannabis Control Commission would also be formed to handle the issuance, renewal and revocations of licenses to sell cannabis, put in place controls and consumer protections, regulate packaging of marijuana in a way that is not accessible or attractive to children and police illegal market activity, according to a press release about the bill.
A retail sales tax of 17 percent would be imposed on legally sold cannabis, with revenue going toward local and state efforts related to law enforcement, behavioral health and substance abuse programs, the release states.
Penalties would be toughened for individuals who traffic cannabis illegally, Pirtle said.
Authors of the bill looked at the way states such as Utah and New Hampshire are regulating retail distribution of liquor as a model to ensure cannabis manufacturers follow guidelines that will ensure cannabis is packaged in a way that does not appeal to children, he said.
That model also helps avoid communities becoming oversaturated by marijuana retailers, a problem Colorado has had to deal with, Pirtle said.
SB 577 next heads to the Senate Consumer Affairs Committee for consideration.
Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301,or at firstname.lastname@example.org.