According to a new poll conducted by Research and Polling Inc., 61% OF New Mexicans support legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana to adults 21 and over. The Drug Policy Alliance sponsored both the poll and a news conference at the NM Roundhouse on January 28th, 2016. Key speakers at the conference were Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino, Representative Bill McCamley, Brian Sanderoff with Research and Polling Inc., and Emily Kaltenbach the State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance.
To summarize the press conference, legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana would create new revenue for New Mexico to the tune of approximately $20M – $60M (according to Senator Ortiz y Pino). This new revenue would go to educational support, law enforcement, and substance abuse treatment programs, depending upon the instrument used to legalize marijuana. Senator Ortiz y Pino proposes a constitutional amendment that would go before voters, while Representative McCamley introduced House Bill 75 during this legislative session. Also, legalizing marijuana would “take money out of cartel’s hands,” according to Rep. McCamley.
In theory, from my perspective, I do think that marijuana should be legalized. Colorado has generated $125M in new taxes since marijuana was legalized there and that kind of money would be a huge boon to our economy. There are risks, of course, as there are potential adverse effects associated with cannabis use disorder. These adverse effects, such as temporary paranoia, temporary hallucinations, decreased lung capacity, potential cognitive decline (a recent study showed that long time marijuana users had an IQ of 8 points less between the ages of 13 and 38), increased heart rates, and potential psychotic episodes; should be acknowledged by any regulation effort. Also, there is potential for “de-motivation” from marijuana use (it’s really not a myth and does in fact happen in some cases) and should also be discussed through educational efforts.
I see no reason NOT to legalize marijuana — as long as people use it through informed choice, then I don’t believe it to be as harmful as alcohol or nicotine, two legal yet HIGHLY destructive substances. To learn more, please visit the Drug Policy Alliance. Let’s get this done for New Mexico!