Commentary: Below is a statement from Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico State Director and Senior Director of Criminal Justice Reform Strategy for the Drug Policy Alliance, who served on the Governor’s working group on cannabis legalization, in response to the recommendations that were released by the group:
“Having worked towards cannabis legalization in New Mexico for the better part of the last decade, we are grateful the Governor’s office involved us in this process, inviting us to be a part of the working group, and are excited by the opportunity to help shape New Mexico’s policies as it looks to become the 12th state in the country to do so.
Many of the working group's recommendations reflect DPA's priorities, including creating equity in the marketplace, reinvesting back into communities most harmed by prohibition, protecting the medical cannabis program, safeguarding children, and establishing strong consumer protections.
We are pleased that the Working Group specifically endorsed:
- Allowing persons with previous controlled substance convictions to participate as licensees and/or workers if they are otherwise eligible.
- Automatically expunging cannabis possession convictions.
- Dedicating revenue to helping communities and small businesses access capital needed to start and grow NM-based businesses.
- Dedicating new revenue to funds to support housing, job training and education programs statewide.
- Keep licensing fees low & allow for “micro business” licenses. These allow small family farms and entrepreneurs to enter the market with lower capital costs.
- Working with local community colleges on certifications/training to ensure that zip code or income is not a barrier to accessing industry skills.
- Decriminalizing the grow of six or fewer plants to remove felony criminal implications for low-level personal production.
We have a responsibility through legalization to right the harms to communities most impacted by prohibition and ensure that equity, along with social and economic justice, are at the heart of any cannabis legalization proposal."
About Drug Policy Alliance
The Drug Policy Alliance envisions a just society in which the use and regulation of drugs are grounded in science, compassion, health and human rights, in which people are no longer punished for what they put into their own bodies but only for crimes committed against others, and in which the fears, prejudices and punitive prohibitions of today are no more. Our mission is to advance those policies and attitudes that best reduce the harms of both drug use and drug prohibition, and to promote the autonomy of individuals over their minds and bodies. Learn more at drugpolicy.org.