On Tuesday, the New Mexico Legislature met for the Governor’s special session on recreational marijuana legalization. She and her party failed to pass it through the Legislature despite having big majorities in both chambers.
The bill, which Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has promised will be a money-maker for the state through the sale of marijuana, turns out to be an apparent scam to subsidize the industry heavily.
As reported earlier, the upfront cost for implementing the marijuana industry, according to the previous 2021 session’s fiscal impact report, was $659,400 in 2022. However, the newly resurrected pot bill in this current legislative session paints a wildly different picture, forcing the state to delve out millions of dollars in taxpayer funds to prop up Big Pot.
The current bill introduced this special session calls for $1.7 million to the Regulation and Licensing Department to “administer” the bill, $750,000 to the Department of Public Safety for “drug recognition expert field certification for law enforcement,” $4 million to the Taxation and Revenue Department for expenditures in the 2021 and 2022 fiscal years, $500,000 to the Administrative Office of the Courts to help address with expungement of records, among other costs.
Just on face-value, the taxpayers of New Mexico would be on the hook for nearly $7 million to implement this costly industry, which was promised to be revenue-generating.
However, according to the previous fiscal impact report for the bill that died in the first legislative session of 2021, by the fiscal year 2024, the flailing industry would only produce at most $15 million in net revenue to the state, which, if current spending levels remain, would only amount to 0.204% of the funds needed to fund the government.
Rep. Stefani Lord (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval, and Santa Fe) was not pleased with the Democrats’ proposal, writing on Facebook, “We’ve been told marijuana will be revenue positive but now, in the middle of Special Session (that has been called in the middle of a Holiday week), we learn last-minute that the state will subsidize the marijuana industry with millions of taxpayer dollars. This is far from open transparent government!”
Lujan Grisham’s allies in the Legislature hope to pass the bill within a matter of days without much care for Republican input. H.B. 2, the pot bill, passed the House Judiciary Committee at around 1 a.m. on Wednesday by 7-4 after it flew through the House Taxation and Revenue Committee on Tuesday by a vote of 8-4.