The Safe Regulation of Marijuana Would Undermine Criminal Enterprises on Both Sides of the Border, While Boosting New Mexico’s Economy and Protecting Our Public’s Safety
Santa Fe, NM – Today, New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino introduced Senate Joint Memorial 31 requesting the New Mexico’s Economic Development Department to convene workgroup, conduct a study and report back to the legislature on the budgetary implications, both revenue and cost savings, of taxing and regulating marijuana in New Mexico.
“It is time to study how wasteful New Mexico’s punitive marijuana laws are and how they continue to sustain a massive, increasingly violent underground economy, waste scarce law enforcement resources, and rob New Mexico tax-payers of millions in potential revenue,” said Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director with the Drug Policy Alliance. “Whether by the hand of lawmakers or a fed-up electorate, these laws are going to change.”
Such as study would also bring to light how the safe regulation of marijuana would undermine criminal enterprises on both sides of the border, while boosting New Mexico’s economy and protecting New Mexicans’ safety.
A report from the Global Commission on Drug Policy released last year suggests the legalization of marijuana as an affirmative step to end failed drug policies that fuel a violent black market. Marijuana prohibition is at the center of the U.S. drug war as more than 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana offences each year and subsequently labeled as criminals, overwhelmingly due to low-level possession for personal use.
These arrests are happening in New Mexico as well. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Uniform Crime Reporting data, in 2010 there were 3,277 marijuana possession arrests and marijuana arrests comprised one third of all drug arrests reported in the NM. Marijuana possession arrest rates vary widely throughout the State, based in part on marijuana use levels as well as local enforcement policies. Dona Ana, Chaves, Sandoval, San Juan and Bernalillo counties led the State in the number or arrests for marijuana possession, collectively representing 63% of the State’s total number of possession arrests (2,055 arrests). Dona Ana County alone represented 28% of the State’s total (901 possession arrests).
In recent years American attitudes have shifted dramatically on this issue: For the first time, support for marijuana legalization topped 50% nationwide last year, according to Gallup, and a recent Mason-Dixon poll found that 67% of Republicans believe that the federal government should get out of the way and let states enforce their own medical marijuana laws, rather than prosecute people complying with state law.
“As marijuana reform becomes a mainstream position, political candidates and elected officials are finding it less and less of a political third rail,” stated Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico State Director of Drug Policy Alliance.