It won't come as much of a surprise if you've been reading these back pages, but I'm pretty sure we're in for some cannabis legalization next year. I don't want to jinx it or anything (I'm knocking on plywood as I write this), but the likelihood of a pro-cannabis governor in 2018 has seemed fairly inevitable—to me, at least.
And then the New Mexico Democratic party announced their support for cannabis legalization at the pre-primary convention earlier this month.
It wasn't an official platform change, and it doesn't mean every Democrat in the state will suddenly flip over to the (clearly more reasonable) side, but it does mean that the Republicans are going to have a tough time yanking single-issue voters over the fence if they don't change their cannabis tune, too.
I don't see why we can't all just have a good time together over here where the grass is greener (see what I did?).
According to the Albuquerque Journal, two of the three Democrats seeking the gubernatorial seat have shown support for legalization (Michelle Lujan Grisham told reporters last week that she supports it, but wants more research done on safely managing its introduction, and Jeff Apodaca said he plans to work with legislators to legalize cannabis during the 2019 session).
Only state Sen. Joseph Cervantes appears leery of full legalization, noting the state's DWI and crime problems as his priorities. I suppose he isn't aware that a study published earlier this year by The Economic Journal found that border states (hey that's us!) where cannabis has been legalized have seen their violent crime rates drop by an average of 13 percent since their laws changed. He also probably never heard of the paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research last year that found legalized cannabis had “minimal impact” on substance use, youth health outcomes, crime rates and traffic accidents.
I don't hate him, though. He did sponsor a proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis—which would have made the penalty a mere $50 fine. It didn't pan, of course, but you can't fault the guy for trying. Apparently, he still prefers the decriminalization route to full legalization. I would urge him to actually take some time and read the research. Politics is much faster and far more divisive today than when we were kids, Joe. Riding the fence has lost its appeal.
Especially since it looks like the New Mexico Democratic Party is done with wedgies and splinters. At the pre-primary, over 90 percent of delegates voted in favor of supporting the decriminalization and legalization of cannabis. The new platform also calls on state Democrats to support federal descheduling of the drug.
An Arizona Court of Appeals just ruled that out-of-state medical cannabis patients with valid prescription cards can possess and use cannabis legally within the state. The surprising policy change was the result of a 2016 case involving California resident Stanley Kemmish Jr., who was arrested by Arizona state police for possessing cannabis and paraphernalia. Kemmish was charged with possession of narcotic drugs, possession of cannabis and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Kemmish fought the charges on the grounds that Arizona's laws protect cannabis users who are taking the medication under the recommendation of a doctor, but prosecutors said the law only protected patients who had received a card issued by the Arizona Department of Health Services.
The case went before an appellate court, where a panel ruled that Kemmish was indeed protected, since the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act lists “visiting qualifying patients”—who are immune to prosecution—as non-residents who have been “diagnosed with a debilitating medical condition by a person who is licensed with authority to prescribe drugs to humans in the state of the person's residence.”
According to the court's ruling: “Whether another state's medical marijuana law requires an identification card, a physician's letter or some other documentation is immaterial, so long as the documentation is sufficient under the law of the issuing state.”
Out-of-state cannabis patients aren't allowed to shop their dispensaries, though, so don't bother asking.
Now if only I could drive back to Albuquerque from Las Cruces without getting popped by federal border agents. … (Did you already forget? That's right. You can get charged with a felony in New Mexico for possessing legal medical cannabis if you're unlucky enough to be carrying it through an interior border checkpoint. We have two in New Mexico: One on US-70, between Holloman AFB and White Sands; the other on Interstate 25, between Elephant Butte and Socorro. The Border Patrol has already said they don't give a shit about your illness, you hippie fuck.)