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Arizona’s Neighbor Announces Marijuana Legalization Plan

NM Marijuana Legalization

By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

Arizona’s eastern neighbor has revealed a new recreational marijuana legalization proposal. The New Mexico proposal for legal marijuana sales unveiled on Oct 16th would subsidize medical marijuana purchases for low-income patients via taxes on recreational cannabis sales and set aside money for police departments and loans to cannabis startup companies.

The proposed law would prohibit local governments from banning marijuana sales, though they would be allowed to apply restrictions on business hours and locations, said Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, who led the governor’s expert panel on legalization. That provision is aimed at curbing illicit markets and keep marijuana shoppers from traveling long distances.

“We’re going to use some of the revenue from recreational marijuana to reinvest … so we don’t lose those patients,” Davis said.

Medical marijuana which is currently taxed on average at 7% would become tax-free. And millions of dollars would be set aside to subsidize cannabis for low-income patients who have qualifying medical conditions such as cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder or chronic pain.

All licensed recreational marijuana businesses would be required to serve the medical marijuana market, with priority given to medical patients when supplies are scarce.

Key features:

  • A 10% excise tax on recreational marijuana was suggested, with the proceeds divided equally between state and local governments. Combined with standard gross receipts taxes on sales and business transactions, that would mean an average markup of 17%.
  • Non-smokable marijuana products would be tested and labeled to show the concentration of psychoactive THC.
  • Home growing of recreational marijuana would continue to be prohibited.
  • Legal cannabis would be treated much like alcohol when it comes to the workplace, with no changes regarding accidents and injuries involving cannabis that result in workers’ compensation claims.

The recommendations from the 23-member expert panel set the stage for this new push to authorize the recreational use and sale of marijuana when New Mexico’s Legislature convenes in January 2020.

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

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