Home News Local News Pirtle introduces bill to legalize recreational cannabis

Pirtle introduces bill to legalize recreational cannabis

State Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, speaks to the audience at an April 2019 meeting of the Chaves County Federated Republican Women. Pirtle, who represents portions of Chaves, Eddy and Otero counties in the New Mexico Senate, Monday introduced Senate Bill 288, which would legalize recreational cannabis in the state. (Daily Record File Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

A bill to legalize recreational cannabis in New Mexico has been introduced by an area lawmaker.

State Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, Monday introduced Senate Bill 288 (SB 288) which would allow individuals age 21 or older in New Mexico to possess, use or purchase up to 2 ounces of cannabis or 16 ounces of cannabis extract for recreational use.

“This proposal represents a pragmatic compromise that emphasizes public safety, while giving New Mexicans the personal liberty to make decisions for themselves,” Pirtle said in a press release issued Monday.

The 129-page bill also puts in place a framework for production and sales of recreational cannabis and instituting a tax on cannabis items sold for recreational use. Cannabis for medical marijuana patients would not be subject to the tax, Pirtle said Wednesday in an interview with the Roswell Daily Record. Money from that sales tax revenue would go toward municipalities, counties and the state for law enforcement.

Individuals would not be able to grow recreational cannabis for their own personal recreational use.

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Under the legislation, a Cannabis Control Commission would be established to craft protocols and standards related to issuance of licenses to dispensaries and other facilities where cannabis can be bought, sold or manufactured, as well as rules governing consumer protections.

Recreational cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, though according to the National Council of State Legislatures, as of January, recreational cannabis is legal in 15 states and the District of Columbia.

Pirtle said the current political reality is moving toward recreational cannabis legalization. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has made legalization a major priority in the current 60-day session and two other bills have already been introduced, and Pirtle wants to make sure the end result is one that directs revenue from cannabis sales to local and state law enforcement efforts and keeps cannabis away from children.

“This has been determined by the governor to be something she wants so it seems that the Legislature and the Democrats are going to give it to her, so we have to write it in the best way possible,” Pirtle said.

The legislation would also prevent dispensaries from being less than a mile apart from one another, and they would not be able to be within 300 feet of a school, child care center, youth center, public park or library.

Pirtle said it is hard to tell how much in state revenue would be generated under his bill, though he said he has heard estimates of between $150 million and $300 million, though he said the goal of legalization should be more about putting the black market out of business and not bringing money into the state.

Pirtle said the legislation will next be considered in the Senate Taxation, Business and Transportation Committee, Senate Judiciary Committee and Senate Finance Committee.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext, 301, or breakingnews@rdrnews.com.

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