EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – Javier Martinez remembers the puzzled faces of a bunch of constituents as he pitched the legalization of marijuana over pizza dinner in Southeast New Mexico.
“The looks were like, ‘why the hell are you doing this?’” the Democratic state consultant from Albuquerque recalled. It was a troublesome crowd together with immigrants from Mexico, the place the drug cartels kill hundreds and revenue billions from illicit marijuana exports.
His argument? If you make it authorized on the U.S. facet, in case you regulate our growers and set clear guidelines for our retailers, the cartels will get caught with their unlawful crop on the Mexican facet.
“We had about a two-and-a-half-hour discussion. […] Yes, there’s an economic development piece to this. Yes, there’s a tax piece to this. But to me, it’s about putting these drug cartels out of business,” he stated. By the time he left, everybody on the desk was onboard.
It wasn’t the primary time the University of New Mexico School of Law graduate relied on his information of the U.S.-Mexico border to get issues finished. He has spearheaded efforts to enhance well being care and schooling in low-income communities very similar to those he grew up in.
But spending many of the first eight years of his life in Juarez, Mexico offers the El Paso, Texas-born Martinez a novel perspective on the drug situation, which he used to guide the legislative effort that led to passage of New Mexico’s leisure marijuana use payments. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed these payments final month.
“I’m a firm believer that we cannot win the war on drugs — certainly not with the strategies that we have used for the past 60 years. You cannot fight violence with violence,” he stated. In the case of cannabis […] with New Mexico turning into one other state to legalize, it places stress on the federal authorities to legalize on the federal degree. I consider as soon as that occurs, it’s going to deal an incredible blow to the worldwide drug commerce.”
Martinez says he doesn’t purchase the argument that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads customers to experiment, then get hooked on more durable medicine like heroin or meth. And he doesn’t take a look at customers as criminals.
“The next step is to begin looking at drug use as a public health problem, not as a criminal problem. When we allow people to receive treatment and to recover, that’s when we really can put an end to the international drug trade,” he stated.
Applications for manufacturing licenses popping out this summer time
Efforts to legalize marijuana in New Mexico have been round for a very long time. But with a rising checklist of states leaping on the cannabis financial bandwagon, New Mexico lawmakers acquired all the way down to enterprise in 2021.
“We went into the 2021 session with what we thought was the best version of the bill. It ran out of time on the (state) Senate floor. If we would have had 36 more hours, we would have gotten it done. When the governor called a special session, it literally took 36 hours to get it done,” Martinez stated.
Most of the 17 states which have legalized cannabis use have finished it via particular poll measures. In New Mexico, proponents set out to ensure they’d constituents on board after which introduced up the invoice for a straight vote.
“We got feedback from people all over state in past five years. I met with people here and there. Allies of mine did the same thing in other parts of state. It was truly a labor of love,” he stated.
But the time for again pats is over; New Mexico officers have lower than a yr to license growers and see the primary dispensaries open for enterprise.
The state on Monday closed the nominating course of for its Cannabis Advisory Commission, which can be led by a state-appointed superintendent. Applications for manufacturing licenses can be accessible in July and due by September. Licenses for manufacturing, retail, analysis and testing, couriers and others ought to be accessible by January 2022.
“No later than April 2022 we will begin to see retail sales, you will begin to see dispensaries in your community,” Martinez stated, however cautioned these must abide by native zoning ordinances. “You can’t just have a dispensary in the middle of your neighborhood.”
The Albuquerque lawmaker stated Southern New Mexico communities close to the Texas border – locations like Sunland Park and Las Cruces – are in a novel place to money in on “foot traffic” from El Paso County.
“Communities down there will probably get an increase in tourism,” he stated. “My hope is that all of those restauranteurs and people operating bars and entertainment venues and what not get ready because this is going to bring more traffic into your community the way it has in Colorado.”
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