The tents were packed up. The elephants and donkeys have trouped back out to their homes on the range or in the mountains of the desert and back to the cities too. The circus was over, but recreational marijuana never made it into the ring-master’s inner circle.
That may seem a dreamy metaphor, but how else to couch the disappointment?
The compromise bill to legalize recreational cannabis, HB 356, was handcrafted to appeal to conservative lawmakers—it was called the “Cannabis Regulation Act, for example—and included a controversial clause that would have mandated sales of recreational cannabis through state-run stores.
When Senate Finance Committee chair John Arthur Smith (D-Deming) realized there weren’t enough yes votes to move the bill out of his committee, he tabled it.
Although ostensibly a step forward, the bill was opposed by many, including some in the medical cannabis industry and even some citizens who questioned a scheme where government-run stores had the market cornered on an activity that would require purchasers to keep all purchase receipts for possible inspection by law enforcement.
There is some good news for New Mexico’s cannabis users. While the plant has effectively been decriminalized in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, a bill that would render simple possession of up to half an ounce a civil offense throughout the state (SB 323) is on its way to the governor for signing.
Further, Governor Lujan Grisham also announced this weekend that recreational cannabis legalization will be an official legislative priority for her administration in 2020. Meanwhile House Speaker Brian Egoff told the local daily “I think we got really far and sometimes these bills have to come back year after year...”
Here’s to hoping that 2020 is the year.