By Vince Torres, Executive Director
Will New Mexico become the 12th state to legalize recreational marijuana? This is one of the more pressing questions heading into 2020.
Recently, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced her intent to place recreational marijuana on the 2020 Legislative Session agenda. She also launched a “Working Group on Cannabis Legalization” to make recommendations and draft the legislation. The passage of such legislation, however, remains uncertain. Our State Legislature has consistently rejected recreational marijuana year over year—including this year—with Democrats and Republicans citing the risks, dangers, and consequences of recreational marijuana in other states.
In the coming weeks and months, Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico will continue to make its case that recreational marijuana is wrong for New Mexico and we believe it is important that we understand the debate at hand.
First of all, we are not debating medicinal marijuana—we are debating recreational marijuana. Medicinal marijuana is already legal in New Mexico, with 70,000+ people enrolled in our state’s medical cannabis program.
Second, we are not debating marijuana criminalization—we are debating marijuana commercialization. This year, Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law legislation decriminalizing possession of personal use amounts of marijuana—an action previously enacted through municipal ordinance by the cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
Given these facts, we need to ask ourselves just one question: Would New Mexico benefit from recreational, commercial marijuana?
Based on what we have seen in other states, including our neighboring state, Colorado, the answer is “no.”
- Did you know that Colorado now leads the nation in first-time marijuana use among youth, and that marijuana-related ER visits by Colorado teens are on the rise?
- Did you know that between 2012 and 2014, the percentage of Hispanic teens arrested in Colorado increased by 29%?
- Did you know that marijuana-impaired driving fatalities in Colorado have more than doubled?
- Did you know that marijuana more than doubles the risk of developing opioid use disorder or initiating nonmedical prescription opioid use?
In New Mexico, we are already facing significant challenges related to crime, drug use, and poverty. We do not need new policies in place that will exacerbate these challenges, exploit our youth, and disproportionately impact low-income and minority communities.
For these reasons and others, we urge you to “Say NO to Big Marijuana” in New Mexico.