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Cannabis Legalization Bill May Get a Chance



2020 was a year that was unlike anything we had seen. For those of us here reporting on the goings on, it was a lot of strange things happened that nobody could have predicted.

In the summer of 2020, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi publicly said that cannabis could help treat symptoms associated with COVID-19 to defend Democrats’ inclusion of cannabis banking provisions in their failed version of the CARES Act bill. “This is a medical therapy that has proven successful,” she said.

It appears that a cultural shift weighted toward the acceptance of cannabis is underway, and New Mexico has been sliding along with the rest of the country. Here are some of the year’s top stories, in case you missed them:

Legalization Bill Dies in Committee

The most recent attempt at legalizing recreational cannabis for adults over 21 in New Mexico was by far the most successful in a long line of failures.

While it made it past the House, it was left to die by the Senate Judiciary Committee during the special session in July.

Although it didn’t pass, the bill received a lot of criticism, and let lawmakers know they needed to back to the drawing board.

Governor Lujan Grisham Backs Legalization

Even though the legalization bill failed to become law, the governor’s support for legalization became even more obvious. She created a legalization task force that made the recommendations to the legislature that eventually informed the bill, and she made it known that she was disappointed that it didn’t pass.

Following the declaration of a pandemic, Lujan Grisham constantly reminded legislators that tax revenues collected from a legal cannabis industry would have gone a long way in helping to offset the state’s financial losses brought on by coronavirus.

Dispensaries Are Essential

If one thing has been proven this year, it’s that cannabis is a COVID-safe industry, and was a point of economic strength during the pandemic. While businesses are failing across the country at alarming rates, cannabis producers were and are still making money.

One reason for this is that every state in the country that has some form of legal cannabis labeled their dispensaries as “essential businesses,” including New Mexico. The decision was seen as controversial in some areas of the nation, but here in New Mexico, it never caused a commotion.

The Battle Over Out-Of-State Patient Rules

In a mind-numbingly confusing case that the public couldn’t keep up with in 2019, out-of-state patients were allowed to enroll in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program—then were not allowed—then were—and so on. Much of the problems surrounded the implementation of new rules that would allow patients enrolled in other states’ medical cannabis programs to purchase cannabis while visiting New Mexico.

The courtroom battles continued on in 2020, as Ultra Health challenged the state’s Department of Health, claiming its rules were too constrictive and blocked out-of-state patients who qualified from participating in the program. A judge ruled against the Department of Health. The DOH has appealed the decision.