Vigorous Debate Showed Bi-Partisan Interest for Marijuana Reform But Failed to Clear Committee As a Result of Lingering Political Fears and Constitutional Arguments
On a tie vote of 5 to 5, New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino’s (D-12-Bernalillo) Senate Joint Resolution 10 (SJR10) failed to pass the Senate Rules Committee. SJR10 would have allowed for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.
“We were encouraged by the thoughtful and vigorous debate by members from both sides of the aisle where both Republicans and Democrats voiced support for marijuana reform. Although they acknowledged the racially disparate impact that New Mexico’s current marijuana laws have on our communities of color and our youth, they chose not to give their constituents the opportunity to vote on this issue,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Sadly, it also appears they are far too concerned that it would be a detriment on the campaign trail.”
A 2013 state poll conducted by Research and Polling found a majority of New Mexico’s registered voters (52%) say they support legalizing marijuana for adults, including 50% of independents and 60% of parents with children under the age of 18. Close to 40% of voters say their senator or representative’s position on the issue would not make a difference in how they vote with 31% of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for their legislator if they supported reducing penalties or taxing and regulating marijuana.
“We’ve tried marijuana prohibition for decades, and it’s clearly failed. It hasn’t reduced use and instead has resulted in the criminalization of millions of people, gross racial disparities, and enormous fiscal waste,” said Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “We need to rethink how we can enhance the health and safety of all New Mexicans through sensible reforms. Tackling these issues will require a vigorous, informed debate, and Senator Ortiz y Pino’s resolution offers a place for these discussions.”
The Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) is the nation’s leading organization of people who believe the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. DPA fights for drug policies based on science, compassion, health and human rights.