#NMLEG Progressive Bill of the Day | 02-06-15

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This morning, Rep. Bill McCamley presented his Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act (HB 160) in the House Agriculture, Water, and Wildlife Committee. Rep. McCamley has been an ardent supporter of drug policy reform and last year passed a House Memorial to study the effects of marijuana legalization.

Rep. McCamley’s HB 160 was referred to five House Committees by the new Republican leadership, known as the “kiss of death.” Here’s how the SF New Mexican reported on the bill’s referral:

McCamley, D-Las Cruces, said Monday wasn’t surprised. “They obviously don’t want this to pass,” he said.

But McCamley said “this effort is all about having a serious conversation” on legalization. Too many people, he said don’t want to talk about all the money that goes to drug cartels, all the money spent on law enforcement, courts and jail stemming from laws against marijuana. “There’s got to be a better way to spend that money,” he said.

“Everyone laughs when you bring up marijuana,” McCamley said. “But I spent the summer volunteering at a shelter (for young Central American refugees). There were kids who rode for three days on tops of freight trains to escape gang violence.” That violence is related to drug cartels, which basically funded by American consumers, he said. “If we refuse to talk seriously about this, we’re doing a disservice to those kids and those like them,” he said.

Rep. Bill McCamley

Rep. Bill McCamley

Rep. McCamley’s bill would establish a regulatory framework “for the legal production, processing and sale (to persons 21 years of age and older) of industrial hemp, marijuana and marijuana products,” according to the bill’s Fiscal Impact Report. Under the Act, marijuana products would be taxed by the Taxation and Revenue Department. The Department would then be “directed to withhold sufficient money to carry out its duties and distribute the balance on a monthly basis: 40 percent to the general fund; 25 percent to [Department of Health] for alcohol and substance abuse prevention and treatment; 15 percent to the department of public safety for state police expenses; and 10 percent each to municipalities and counties in proportion to the number of licenses issued.”

During the hearing, Rep. McCamley emphasized the safety of marijuana in comparison to alcohol, the revenue New Mexico could garner from it’s taxation and regulation, the way hemp farming would benefit farmers, the overwhelming public support for marijuana legalization, among a host of other data points, dispelled myths, and historical context.

Sadly, the House Agriculture, Water, and Wildlife Committee killed Rep. McCamley’s bill.