Alibi V.29 No.8 • Feb 20-26, 2020 

Baked Goods

Forget About It

Recreational bill tabled

Baked Goods logo (with correct glasses!)

You can probably stop wishing in that hand, now. The state's lawmakers have already filled the other one with a steaming pile of dung. Now it's time to make a decision: Do you accept what they've done and move on or set your inner ape free and lob that turd right back at them?

Sens. Joseph Cervantes and Richard Martinez will find out soon enough when election time comes around. These days, Millennials and Gen-Xers are apparently ruthless when it comes to voting. According to the Pew Research Center, voters ages 18 to 53 outvoted their elders in 2018—an increasing trend that researchers say will likely continue this year.

Someone must have forgotten to tell Cervantes and Martinez that Millennials and Gen-Xers love their weed, because last week the two Democratic senators voted to table the recreational cannabis bill that's been making its way through the Legislature, helping their Republican colleagues virtually kill our chance of seeing cannabis legalized this session.

Last week, SB 115, the “Cannabis Regulation Act,” was sent to die alone in the cornfield by the Senate Judiciary Committee after we saw it narrowly pass through the Public Affairs Committee earlier this month. Committee Chairman Cervantes immediately argued that there wasn't enough time to go over the bill, and said that it seemed to favor special interests. He also cited issues with the involvement of unions and individuals with criminal records. He apparently convinced Martinez to join him in his mad rush to piss off voters and suggested they squash the whole thing. The Judiciary Committee voted 6-4 to table the bill, with most members voting along party lines. Except for those wily Democrats Cervantes and Martinez, of course.

Back in January, I pointed out that while three-quarters of New Mexicans—of both parties, mind you—reportedly support the legalization of recreational cannabis, state Republicans were taking a hard stand against SB 115 and could prove troublesome. The New Mexico GOP tweeted before the vote that a recreational cannabis market wouldn't be the economic windfall that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham—a supporter of the bill—was promising. “The governor has touted this bill as a means to raise revenue and jolt the New Mexico economy. Not true. It's unclear what the economic impact ...” The account failed to produce any evidence supporting the statement, however.

I expected the Republicans to buck the bill, but I definitely didn't expect any Dems to help them out. Maybe I should have.

Following the vote, Gov. Lujan Grisham made a statement.

“Legalized recreational cannabis in New Mexico is inevitable,” she wrote. “The people of New Mexico have said they want it. A diversified state economy demands it. Poll after poll has demonstrated that New Mexicans want a 21st century economy and want cannabis to be part of it … I am disappointed but not deterred by tonight’s committee motion … We will keep working to get it done. And ultimately we will deliver thousands of careers for New Mexicans … We will deliver justice to the victims of an overzealous war on low-level drugs.”

I asked Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis what he thought of the news. Davis was the head of the governor's Cannabis Working Group, which provided the recommendations that the bill was ultimately based on. Davis seemed hopeful. “In just the first three weeks of the session, we've moved legalization farther than it’s ever been,” he wrote in an email.

As for me, I'll be doing my part by remembering exactly who shot this one down. Cervantes and Martinez: We're watching you.

New Laws Cause Confusion

A patient enrolled in the Colorado medical cannabis program was arrested for marijuana possession near Farmington, N.M. But he argued that the state's new reciprocity law allows him to possess cannabis. The deputy who arrested him is now being investigated by internal affairs.

According to KRQE, Vinny Amato says he shouldn't have been arrested in the first place. “I don’t get why I was brought to jail over a petty misdemeanor that according to everything I’m reading was legal to begin with,” he said.

Earlier this month, Amato was pulled over for speeding in San Juan County. He was returning from a jaunt to Colorado and was carrying 112 grams of flower that he'd purchased there because it's cheaper. Amato claims he told the officer that he wasn't breaking any laws. “New Mexico reciprocates,” he allegedly told the officer. “And the cop was like 'I don’t know what you’re talking about,'” Amato said.

According to a new law that passed last year, patients enrolled in another state's medical cannabis program can possess, use and even purchase medical cannabis while in New Mexico. Nevertheless, Amato was arrested and spent the night in jail. He was released the next day but only under the condition that he not use cannabis.

The San Juan County Sheriff’s Office says Amato’s complaint is now with internal affairs, and the confusion could stem from the lack of clarity in the law. The New Mexico Department of Health told reporters that while out-of-state patients can possess cannabis, they aren't allowed to transport it across state lines. This is not explicitly stated in the law, however.

“It seems like nobody’s aware of the law. If there’s that much gray area for them being misinformed, why am I taking the brunt end of it?” Amato asked.

It's unclear how this case will turn out, but investigators told Amato they'd stay in touch.

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