It appears that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is revving up for legalization in New Mexico, just like she promised us.
Supporters of the governor’s 2018 campaign reportedly received an email last week asking for opinions related to the legalization of cannabis for adult consumption in New Mexico. The email said the governor would like to review the opinions before her team meets to “chat through some big ideas.”
Lujan Grisham signaled she was ready to see cannabis legalized during the last legislative session and even chided lawmakers for failing to pass the most recent legalization bill. She promised to make it a priority in 2021 and even put together a task force to come up with recommendations for how best to regulate the market.
The questionnaire that the email is linked to seems to imply that she is going forward with the plan and really pushing for legalization this time around. It asks a number of weighted questions that seem to suggest Lujan Grisham plans to argue that any negative social effects of legalizing cannabis are far outweighed by the economic benefits.
“I’ve listened to deep concerns for people whose lives have been turned upside down by the inequitable effects of minor marijuana convictions along with an undeniable call for increased public safety, especially for New Mexico children,” the governor wrote. “But one thing has become clear through all these efforts: Legalizing cannabis would be a net benefit to New Mexico and transform the lives of so many people in this state.”
The questionnaire asked:
•“Do you think it’s important to protect and expand access to medical cannabis?”
•“How important is it to you that New Mexico protect public safety as it pursues legalized cannabis?”
•“How important is it to you that we do everything we can to boost the economies of local communities in New Mexico?”
•“How important is it to you that we keep fighting for forward-thinking policies that will help New Mexico families?”
At the end, it tries to sneak a donation out of visitors.
It seems like her argument is solid, if simple. It’s hard to argue with the fact that cannabis has proven to be a coronavirus-safe industry and that the New Mexico coffers are dangerously empty. The state recently had to make a number of emergency cuts to the year’s budget to deal with the underperforming oil and gas market that funds much of our state government.
During a live-streamed COVID-19 update in May, Lujan Grisham pointed out that many of the capitol projects that were vetoed or downgraded to save on funds would have been able to continue as planned had lawmakers passed the cannabis legalization bill earlier this year.
Presidential candidate Joe Biden is clearly ready to say goodbye to the cannabis vote. With the decision to choose Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate, he’s resolutely placed himself in the ring against criminal justice reform and, by extension, in support of the current draconic practices of the War On (some) Drugs.
Harris’ failure to become the Democratic candidate can almost assuredly be blamed on her time as the Attorney General of California. While there, she proved to everyone that she was one of those bad actors that make criminal justice reform necessary in the first place.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard called Harris out on it during a Democratic presidential debate that ultimately sunk Harris’ campaign last year. “There are too many examples to cite,” said the Hawaiian representative. “But she put over fifteen-hundred people in jail for marijuana violations, and then laughed about it when she was asked if she ever smoked marijuana. She blocked evidence that would have freed an innocent man from death row until the courts forced her to do so. She kept people in prison beyond their sentences to use them as cheap labor for the state of California. And she fought to keep a cash bail system in place that impacts poor people in the worst kind of way.” The senator also actively fought against a California measure to legalize cannabis in 2010.
Harris would later propose addressing all of these issues—including cannabis, which she said should be legalized or descheduled—months after this debate. Keep that in mind when Biden’s campaign starts telling you that she had a Road to Damascus moment somewhere in there and magically reversed her views on all of these topics. There couldn’t possibly be a political reason behind it. Right?
And as for any serious talk concerning federal cannabis law reform over the next four years: You can almost certainly forget about it.
The US Department of Agriculture is denying coronavirus relief to hemp farmers.
In a recent notice, the USDA said it will only be providing Coronavirus Food Assistance Program benefits to commodity producers that saw at least a five percent price decline for their goods between January and April. The hemp industry reportedly made too much money to be considered.
“While the national price did decrease during the first quarter of 2020, it was only a 1 percent decrease, which did not meet the 5 percent or greater decrease in price for CFAP eligibility,” USDA said.
The Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) is a $19 billion relief program that was established as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act.