House Bill 160, the Cannabis Regulation Act, sponsored by Representative Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque) and Representative Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Albuquerque) to legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis products in New Mexico was introduced on the House floor Thursday. Here is a statement from the New Mexico House Democrats:
House Bill 160 creates a responsible and tightly regulated system of approved licensees as developed by the state Regulation and Licensing Department and, if passed, would grant the commercial sale of cannabis beginning in 2022.
“At the core of this legislation are the principles of social equity and local entrepreneurship,” said Representative Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque). “The governor is absolutely correct when she says this will be a new frontier of our economy. As we look to diversify revenue and economic activity in the state, this industry is going to open enormous opportunities, creating jobs and generating revenue for critical services and economic development.”
“Not only does the legalization and regulation of cannabis create new opportunities for our state, it also marks a big step forward for public safety. This bill is our best shot at eliminating the underground market for marijuana that we see today and, for me, that’s key,” said Representative Maestas (D-Albuquerque). “An incredible amount of study, outreach, and consideration went into crafting this bill, and it allows us to move forward with confidence with a strict, safe regulatory structure for this new market.”
Economic projections show that sales of recreational cannabis could be as much as $318 million in the first year of legalization, creating over 11,000 new jobs.
HB 160 places a 9% excise tax on the sale of recreational cannabis. That tax is projected to generate $28.6 million in the first year and $55.8 million per year as the market stabilizes. The revenue raised will be invested in workforce training, small business programs, substance abuse programs, legal services, law enforcement training, subsidies for medical cannabis patients, educational initiatives for driver safety, and a fund to reinvest in communities that have been disproportionately affected by federal and state drug policies.
A statewide poll conducted in November 2019 found that 73% of New Mexicans support cannabis legalization. House Bill 160 will be heard next in House Consumer and Public Affair Committee and then in the House Judiciary Committee.