New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) announced that cannabis legalization will be of top priority for her administration’s 2021 legislative goals. Grisham plans to use marijuana as a means of boosting the economy, utilizing the additional tax revenues produced by the legal cannabis market.
In a press release sent out on January 13, Grisham said that legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana would work to establish “an essential revenue source for the state and employment source for tens of thousands of New Mexicans.” She also outlined the importance of protecting the state’s current medical program and providing safe workplace conditions for those involved.
Gov. Grisham has been a strong advocate for reform since her election. She’s maintained the argument that marijuana legalization serves as an opportunity for positive fiscal outcomes, and with the budgeting shortfalls brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the incentive to legalize is greater than ever before.
Cannabis reform and legalization was a priority for Grisham’s office in 2020 as well, but the bill didn’t materialize after being rejected by a Senate Committee in the state. There was also a legalization push in 2019, but it lost momentum quickly in the senate.
Despite legislators in the state reluctance to advance cannabis reform in prior years, the pandemic appears to have changed the mindset of several key lawmakers. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D) has already established earlier in January that marijuana legalization would be on his top list of priorities, as well.
With an emphasis on social justice reform, Emily Kaltenbach, senior director of resident states and New Mexico for the Drug Policy Alliance, is hopeful that reform is soon-to-come. “Equity must be the guiding force,” she told Marijuana Moment, “and we will continue to work with the governor’s administration and legislative leaders to ensure that legislation is comprehensive and reinvests back into communities most harmed by drug prohibition.”