#NMLEG Progressive Bill of the Day | 02-12-15

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A key Senate committee moved a marijuana legalization bill forward today, setting in motion the process to put the issue on a 2016 statewide ballot for voters.

SJR2, sponsored by Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Abq.), proposes to “amend the state constitution by adding a new section to allow for possession and personal use of marijuana for persons 21 years of age and older” and permit the state to tax and regulate the sale of personal use amounts of marijuana.

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino

Voters in Bernalillo and Santa Fe Counties overwhelmingly approved ballot questions in 2014 asking if voters wanted elected leaders to support marijuana decriminalization for personal use.

DecrimNM, the public campaign supporting those initiatives, was a joint campaign of the Drug Policy Alliance and ProgressNow New Mexico.

After debating the issue, the Senate Rules Committee voted to move the bill forward. It is next scheduled for the Senate Judiciary Committee and, if it passes there, will go to the full Senate for a vote.

Republican Senator Mark Moores noted that he believes marijuana will be legal in five years, though he voted against sending the question to voters. Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto noted that because the issue sets up a conflict between state and federal law on the issue, voters should weigh in.

Constitutional amendments must be approved by both chambers, but not necessarily in the same year. If the Senate approves the amendment, the House could take it up in either 2015 or 2016. It would not require the governor’s signature.