Deep-pocketed marijuana lobby banking on Legislature’s proposals to legalize weed

On Monday, state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto (D-Bernalillo) introduced a proposal, S.B. 13, to legalize marijuana for recreational use in adults. 

He said, “The reason I decided to do it this time is I got frustrated with the fact that I think people want us to do this in pretty high numbers,” and he wanted to propose a bill that “would pass,” as Democrats’ previous attempts to legalize the drug have been met with large opposition on both sides of the aisle. His bill would tax the substance an extreme 21%, which may, in fact, promote the illegal sale of the drug on the street due to the unaffordable price with taxes.

Ivey Soto received $1,000 from PurLife, a marijuana dispensary headed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham “maxed out” donor Darren White, in his 2020 bid for re-election. 

Other members of the Legislature have also proposed marijuana legalization bills, including Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R-Chaves, Eddy, and Otero), whose bill, S.B. 288, wants to legalize marijuana and leave private companies such as PurLife with the distribution. Pirtle proposes a 2% excise tax on top of local gross receipts tax on the drug. He received $2,500.00 from PurLife and $1,000 from another marijuana company, Natural RX, in his 2020 bid for re-election.

In an interview months before the 2018 election, which Gov. Lujan Grisham won, PurLife’s Darren White said “Our company got behind Michelle pretty early and we maxed out [its allowable contributions] quickly.” Now, the governor is trying to make it a top-priority to ram through her marijuana bill to fulfill her 2018 campaign promise made to both the voters and to marijuana dispensaries like PurLife. She failed to do so in 2019 and 2020, however, due to more moderate Democrats leaving the chamber due to the Governor running primary challenges against them in the 2020 election, she has a better shot at legalizing weed in the state.

Another legislator who is sponsoring a bill for legalized pot is Rep. Javier Martinez (D-Bernalillo), who said of his bill that “It makes for the perfect conditions if you will. I don’t think the opportunity has ever been better than it is now to pass a legalization bill.” He says New Mexico needs the bill to cover for gaps in the budget. 

Martinez received $5,000 from Darren White’s PurLife for his 2020 re-election bid to the state House. 

UPDATE: The New Mexico Legislature will meet on March 30 for Gov. Lujan Grisham’s special session to force through recreational marijuana since the Governor and her allies failed to pass it in the regular 60-day session.

Other members of the Legislature who received campaign donations from PurLife in the 2020 election cycle: 

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino (D-Santa Fe): $1,000

Rep. Kelly Fajardo (R-Valencia) $1,000

Rep. Deborah Armstrong (D-Bernalillo) $1,000

Rep. Rod Montoya (R-Farmington) $1,000

Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Doña Ana) $1,000

New Mexico Senate Democrats $5,000

Rep. Harry Garcia (D-Bernalillo, Cibola, McKinley, Socorro, San Juan & Valencia) $1,000

Sen. Stuart Ingle (R-Chaves, Curry, De Baca, Lea and Roosevelt) $1,000

Rep. Candie Sweetser (D-Grant, Hidalgo & Luna) $1,000

Sen. Craig Brandt (R-Sandoval) $2,500

Rep. Antonio  “Moe” Maestas (D-Bernalillo) $2,500, Moe’s “Moe PAC” $5,500

Fmr. Sen. John Arthur Smith (D-Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Luna & Sierra) $2,500

Brian Egolf Speaker Fund (D-Santa Fe) $2,500

Sen. Mark Moores (R-Bernalillo) $2,500

Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) $2,500

Fmr. Sen. Sander Rue (R-Bernalillo) $2,500

Fmr. Sen. Mary Kay Papen (D-Doña Ana) $2,500

Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Bernalillo) $1,000

Fmr. Sen. Candace Gould (R-Bernalillo & Sandoval) $2,500

Rep. Micaela Cadena (D-Doña Ana) $1,000

Sen. Nancy Rodriguez (D-Santa Fe) $2,500

Rep. Jason Harper (R-Sandoval) $1,000

Rep. Doreen Gallegos (D-Doña Ana) $1,000

Sen. Mimi Stewart (D-Bernalillo) $1,000

Rep. Dayan Hochman-Vigil (D-Bernalillo) $1,000

Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo) $1,000

Rep. Eliseo Alcon (D-Cibola & McKinley) $1,000

Sen. George Muñoz (D-Cibola, McKinley and San Juan) $2,500

Sen. Steve Neville (R-San Juan) $2,500 

Other members who received campaign contributions from Nature RX: 

Brian Egolf Speaker Fund (D-Santa Fe) $2,500

Sen. Jacob Candelaria (D-Bernalillo) $500

Rep. Joy Garratt (D-Bernalillo) $250

Sheryl Williams Stapleton (D-Bernalillo) $1,000

Fmr. Sen. Mary Kay Papen (D-Doña Ana) $500

Sen. Pete Campos (D-Colfax, Guadalupe, Harding, Mora, Quay, San Miguel and Taos) $500

Sen. Peter Wirth (D-Santa Fe) $1,000

Marijuana Company Reynold Greenleaf & Associates, LLC

$5,000 to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham

Donations by “associate” members of the “New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce.”

Sen. Pete Campos (D-Colfax, Guadalupe, Harding, Mora, Quay, San Miguel and Taos): $5,000 from Affordable Solar on 12/16/2019


3 thoughts on “Deep-pocketed marijuana lobby banking on Legislature’s proposals to legalize weed”

  1. I’m against ally lobbying and companies contributing to politicians. I am not against the legalization of marijuana. I think it’s long overdue. Ignorance of its benefits doesn’t help the situation. Having it regulated AND creating jobs and broadening the absurd primarily-gas-reliant tax base in a rural state is wise.

  2. We that have swamp coolers will have the smell coming into your house. The smell will invade your back yard that will affect your air quality . In Colorado the smell comes into your care when the air conditioner is on. Do the research – New Mexico Does not have enough water for pot plants The chemicals will leak into our soil. Second hand smoke is dangerous, Marijuana causes mental illness. Is Grisham and White going to give me $12K to remove my swamp cooler and replace with air to avoid the smell? No I asked them and no response. They are only concerned about Money not People’s Health

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