Last month both New Mexico gubernatorial candidates faced off in a televised debate on KRQE. When questioned about recreational cannabis Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham took a huge swig from her water bottle and Rep. Steve Pearce just smirked.
The first question: “Have either of you smoked pot?” Both answered they hadn't (a little irritably, I might point out).
With that out of the way, Anchor Dean Staley cut to the quick and asked about the legalization of cannabis. Commenting first on medicinal cannabis, Pearce growled, “I was suspicious of that for many years.” He said some close friends had convinced him, though, and he'd “come to terms” with it. With clear discomfort, he said, “Medical marijuana. Fine. We will do it. There maybe should be more oversight.”
He then tried to explain his bizarre reasoning behind denying recreational legalization. I've mentioned it a few times, but it's worth remembering that back in April, Pearce told a crowd of voters that legal cannabis would be “one more obstacle in front of people who are struggling to get out of poverty.” It was one of the weirdest lines of thought I've encountered.
I was interested to hear his rationalization this time around. The new answer: “When I say that we've got to cure poverty—when we've got to cure mental behavior health [sic] and drug addiction—opioid addiction—all of those kind of merge together.” Okay, I'm following you so far, Pearce. “I do not see how putting one more obstacle in front of people helps them to get out of poverty and get back on their feet. I really don't.”
So there you have it. All cleared up.
Lujan Grisham reiterated her support of legalization. She pointed out that it was an economic boost in all the states where it's been implemented and “the benefit New Mexico has with the nine states that have legalized recreational marijuana is that we can learn from their successes and their mistakes.” Quite rational.
She pointed out that she helped get medical cannabis approved and chided Pearce for voting against veteran access to medical cannabis. She also criticized Governor Martinez for “doing everything she can to minimize access and make it difficult to obtain both a license to produce and get access as a patient.”
She struck me as quite passionate about the question, which I like. I noticed she was hardly able to contain her shocked sighs while listening to Pearce's bizarre rhetoric. Her opponent, meanwhile, maintained a super creepy beatific smile and stared directly into the camera while Lujan Grisham promised to sign any bill that “protects the medical cannabis program—makes sure that patients don't lose any of their access to the products that they need, deals with workplace intoxication and public safety, deals with underage consumption and prevention and regulates productively edibles—which can get in the hands of underage users—then I'm inclined to sign that bill.”
Pearce interjected before the next question was asked to say that Colorado is facing problems with “lessening performance” (whatever that means), more drugged driving (a misleading statistic, since the only current testing method will give a positive result 30 to 120 days after it was last ingested) and “younger kids taking it.”
He went on to describe a nameless single mother who supposedly moved back to New Mexico from “one of the states” and said to him, “How dare you put an obstacle in front of me trying to raise my family.” He sure talks to a lot of people with “obstacles in front” of them.
Lujan Grisham cut in once more to say that she has identified those very issues and can plan to deal with them better now that we know of the concerns. “To minimize that as an economic driver doesn't make any sense.” Classy.