New Mexico’s Gov. Michelle Lynn Lujan Grisham has recently expressed regrets that cannabis legalization failed to pass the legislature in the Land of Enchantment. As the coronavirus shutdown continues, the U.S. economy hangs in the balance.  The stay at home order has had a huge impact on small businesses, leading to layoffs for millions of families, and forcing some business owners to close their doors indefinitely.  As nearly a third of the country turns to public assistance, state resources are being strained, and many states are turning to the federal government for help.  Indeed, the tax revenue provided by a booming recreational marijuana market would have come in handy as the nationwide unemployment rate skyrocketed to an unprecedented level.  In the midst of the lockdown, many states have declared that cannabis dispensaries are essential businesses, allowing marijuana retailers to remain open for curbside pickup and delivery.  Medical marijuana has been legal in New Mexico since as early as 2007. Last year, New Mexico lawmakers passed a bill to decriminalize adult-use of cannabis, however, a valiant effort to legalize recreational marijuana failed to garner enough support.   In a press conference in February, Gov. Grisham told reporters, “If there was ever a time for wishful thinking, I wish we had passed recreational cannabis because that would be $100 million. Those are pre-COVID-19 estimates, but $100 million in the budget, and I’m very sad about that.” Said Gov. Grisham, “The Legislature has the opportunity to pass the largest job-creation program in New Mexico in a decade. Skeptics have been right to preach study and patience. I agree with their caution – and that’s why we haven’t rushed into this issue. But if we are clear-eyed about the risks, we have to be clear-eyed about the opportunity.” Advocacy organizations are hoping that the pandemic could be the final push that the New Mexico legislature needs to finally legalize cannabis, once and for all.  According to Mexico Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director Emily Kaltenbach, “[Gov. Grisham] is right, that if we could legalize cannabis in New Mexico, it’s not going to solve our budget woes, but it would add to the state coffers. We need to be creative and we need to diversify our economy so that we are not reliant on oil and gas, and legalization is one of the ways to do that. So, it’s encouraging to hear perhaps we may be more inclined to legalize given the economic situation we are in right now.” Tom Angell posted a Tweet on February 21st that reads, “NEW: At the end of the legislative session in which New Mexico lawmakers failed to legalize marijuana, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she is open to referring a cannabis question to the ballot as a constitutional amendment so that voters can decide.”

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