New Mexico is facing a big hole in the budget in 2015. This legislator wants to plug it with pot. Is he right?
History will look back on 2014 as a “watershed” year for marijuana, many political scientists believe. Colorado led the nation with the first legal recreational marijuana sales in January, followed by votes at the end of the year in Alaska and Oregon to follow suit.
And voters expressed overwhelming support for most marijuana ballot questions across the country, including two here in New Mexico.
With Colorado pulling in a reported $30,000,000 in new revenues from its first year of taxed-and-regulated pot, legislators in other states are looking to marijuana as a new crop of revenue to fund previously underfunded programs like education and expand a state’s economic base.
Acting on a resolution passed by the state legislature in 2014, New Mexico’s Legislative Council Service is expected to release a study in early 2015 analyzing the fiscal impacts of legalization in Colorado. State Rep. Bill McCamley recently gave a presentation to a legislative committee where he expressed optimism that an Oregon-based model for marijuana policy could generate new revenues in New Mexico, as well.
Now State Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Abq.), a long-time proponent of marijuana policy reform, tells KOB’s Stuart Dyson he thinks its time New Mexico consider a legalization and taxation program in the Land of Enchantment.
Colorado made nearly $30 million in tax revenues in the first half of the year from sales of recreational weed. Some lawmakers here say New Mexico should follow suit.
“Before very long we’re going to have to go there because it’s so tempting,” said Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, an Albuquerque Democrat. “It’s one way of regulating it that actually saves us money on the policing and jail side and makes us money on the tax revenue side, so I think we’ll wind up going there.”
One powerful opponent of legalizing pot is Gov. Susana Martinez, who has the power to veto any pot bill she doesn’t like – with the exception of proposed constitutional amendments. If those pass the legislature, they go on the ballot for voters to make the final decision.
Watch the video of the story online at KOB.com
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