- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 29, 2019

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced plans Friday to pursue legalizing recreational marijuana once state lawmakers reconvene early next year.

Ms. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, touted the creation of a Cannabis Legalization Working Group established to study how the state should go about joining the growing list to permit legal pot.

The group will be led by Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis and composed of several state lawmakers, Cabinet secretaries, law enforcement officials and medical marijuana executives, local news outlets reported.

“This group will ensure we begin the next session with a credible, equitable and cohesive legalization proposal that will incorporate all public safety concerns, workplace regulations, labeling requirements that protect underage children and all manner of other issues,” Ms. Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “There are open questions about how legalization can work best for New Mexico. This group will answer those questions, and we will arrive at the next session prepared.”

“I want New Mexico’s introduction and management of recreational cannabis to be the envy of the country,” the governor added. “We can and will incorporate lessons learned from other states so that New Mexico provides for a well-regulated industry that, crucially, does not infringe on or harm our expanding medical cannabis program, upon which so many New Mexicans rely.”

The first-term governor will ask state lawmakers to prioritize legalizing marijuana when they reconvene in January, her announcement said.

Marijuana is federally prohibited on account of its status as a Schedule 1 drug, but most states have passed laws legalizing pot for medicinal or recreational purposes.

Thirty-three states have legalized medical marijuana, including New Mexico in 2007. Ten of those have enacted laws legalizing recreational marijuana, and Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed legislation last week that will see his state follow-through in 2020.

A measure legalizing recreational marijuana in New Mexico passed the state House in March, but it ultimately died in the Senate before lawmakers adjourned for the year. The governor has since signed into law a bill decriminalizing marijuana, effectively reducing penalties for possession.

“New Mexico has been on the forefront of marijuana policy for more than a decade, and I am confident that this working group can help chart a path to recreational cannabis in New Mexico in a way that accomplishes the governor’s goals,” Mr. Davis said.

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