On Tuesday, the New Mexico Legislature will reconvene at the behest of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to reconsider a bill legalizing recreational marijuana. However, there is much confusion about what the bill under consideration is going to cover since conflicting pieces of legislation have been distributed to state legislators. One draft appears to grant minors access to marijuana through a loophole.
Sen. George Munñoz (D-Cibola, McKinley, and San Juan) told the Santa Fe New Mexican, “They were supposed to send us a copy of it today. I really don’t know what it’s going to look like. Every time I went to read one [a cannabis bill] during the session, every four hours they had a different bill.”
Sen. Joseph Cervantes (D-Doña Ana), who serves as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “Nobody is saying the bill is ready and should be passed from top to bottom.”
On Monday, Cervantes tweeted out, “To those calling and messaging me on marijuana legislation for special session tomorrow. I’m told we’ll get a new rewritten bill today, which addresses all issues I and others identified in our Judiciary Committee hearing during the regular session.”
According to the Carlsbad Current-Argus, Cervantes said the bill might be split in two, with one portion dealing with recreational marijuana legalization, while another deals with “social justice” aspects to expunge records of past drug offenses.
“You can understand how some legislators might vote for the licensing bill, but be against criminal justice reforms; and conversely, some vote the criminal justice reforms and against the licensing bill,” Cervantes said. “There are some Republicans who have said they support the principle of legalization, but may have problems expunging records and letting people out of jail.”
However, there is no certainty the bill will have the support to pass the Senate, with the Santa Fe New Mexican warning of how risky prior special sessions called by governors have been, notably Gov. Gary Johnson, who reconvened the Legislature to fix budgetary issues while falling short on a push to “close a loophole in state gasoline tax law that allowed Indian tribes to sell wholesale gas tax-free.”
“There are plenty of ideas and, with Easter approaching, precious little time. We’ll see whether legislators can build a new industry, or just blow smoke,” wrote the New Mexican’s editorial board.
Senator Gregg Schmedes (R-Bernalillo, Sandoval, Santa Fe, and Torrance) shared on his Facebook page what appears to be a Democrat version of the marijuana bill in contention, where it reads “It is not a violation of the Cannabis Regulation Act when: a parent, a legal guardian or adult spouse of a person under twenty-one years of age serves cannabis products to that person under twenty-one years of age on real property, other than licensed premises, under the control of the parent, legal guardian, or adult spouse.” Schmedes wrote, “Apparently Dems like the idea of giving marijuana to minors. Might want to talk to the CDC or WHO or just about any doctor first.”
Also concerning members of the New Mexico Senate is whether Pro Tem Mimi Stewart (D-Bernalillo) will force “sensitivity training” down members’ throats after she was distraught after debating Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto over a bill regarding paid medical leave. She couldn’t answer basic questions about her bill and claimed Ivey-Soto was “abusive.”
One Republican senator told the Piñon Post that he would reject the training if asked to do it. The senator wrote, “Ha. I will refuse. I don’t force them to do common-sense training.”
As the special session approaches, the Governor has made it crystal clear that she is not taking “no” for an answer, and the recreational pot industry has made it clear that “social justice” provisions of the bill are “absolutely required.”
House Republican Leader Jim Townsend said in a statement, “The past sixty days have been defined by the Governor and Democrats silencing the voice of the people, and the silence has become deafening following the crash and burn of their pot bill.”
“If legalizing marijuana is truly about the people, you would think that New Mexicans from all walks of life would have the opportunity to contribute to the process, especially when it failed so miserable[y] at the last minute due to too many cooks in the kitchen. Transparency is key to the public good, and so far all I can tell you is that transparency in this building is on shaky ground.”