(SANTA FE, NM) – Today, New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino’s Senate Memorial 80, requesting the New Mexico’s Economic Development Department to study the budgetary implications of taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico, passed out of Senate Rules Committee on a 6-1 bipartisan vote. The memorial will next be heard in Senate Judiciary Committee before being heard by the entire Senate.
"Legislators on both sides of the aisle want to know how taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico will improve our economic success as a state,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance. "Many of the best ideas defy political labels."
A new state poll conducted by Research and Polling found a majority of New Mexico’s registered voters (52 percent) say they support legalizing marijuana for adults, so that it could be taxed and regulated in a way similar to alcohol with only 40 percent opposed.
A report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy released last year suggests the legalization of marijuana as an affirmative step to end failed drug policies that fuel a violent black market. Marijuana prohibition is at the center of the U.S. drug war as more than 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana offences each year and subsequently labeled as criminals, overwhelmingly due to low-level possession for personal use.
These arrests are happening in New Mexico as well. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting data, in 2010 there were 3,277 marijuana possession arrests and marijuana arrests comprised one third of all drug arrests reported in New Mexico. Marijuana possession arrest rates vary widely throughout the state, based in part on marijuana use levels as well as local enforcement policies. Dona Ana, Chaves, Sandoval, San Juan and Bernalillo counties led the state in the number or arrests for marijuana possession, collectively representing 63 percent of New Mexico’s total number of possession arrests (2,055 arrests). Dona Ana County alone represented 28 percent of the State’s total (901 possession arrests).
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation's leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.