New Mexico lawmakers send recreational marijuana bills to governor


New Mexico’s Democratic-controlled state legislature on Wednesday sent a package of bills to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) that would legalize recreational marijuana.

Lawmakers used a two-day marathon legislative session to push through marijuana legalization for adults 21 and over, according to the Associated Press. A companion bill was also passed that would erase past marijuana convictions. Lujan Grisham has signaled support for the legislation, the AP notes.

Under the legislation, recreational marijuana sales would initially be taxed at 12 percent, eventually rising to 18 percent. Possession of up to two ounces of marijuana would no longer be a crime and individuals would be allowed to keep up to 12 plants per household.

The bill would go into effect in April 2022 if signed.

“The United States of America is in the midst of a sea change when it comes to this,” Rep. Javier Martinez (D), lead sponsor of the bill said. "This bill begins to repair the harms of prohibition.”

The legislation had previously faced an uphill battle until several of the more hardline Democratic opponents were voted out of office in the 2020 primary elections, according to the AP.

New Mexico would join 15 other U.S. states if it legalizes marijuana. Currently, marijuana is decriminalized in the state with a first-time possession of up to a half-ounce punishable with a $50 fine.

The AP notes that New Mexico once considered legalizing marijuana in the 1990s when former Gov. Gary Johnson (L), who was a Republican at the time, challenged the notions on decriminalization that other members of his party held.

On Wednesday New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill that legalized recreational marijuana in his state, making New York the 15th state to do so. Virginia lawmakers also recently passed a recreational marijuana legalization bill and are currently waiting for Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) signature. Northam has recently proposed that the timeline for legalizing marijuana be expedited to July 1 of 2020.

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