A coalition of public health and safety groups, business coalitions, and representatives of New Mexico state law enforcement gathered in the Capitol Rotunda to host a press conference urging lawmakers to oppose the passage of any legislation legalizing and commercializing recreational marijuana.
“As a Coloradan, I can speak firsthand as to the results of marijuana commercialization, and I can say without a doubt that lawmakers here in Santa Fe would be wise to reject this push,” said Luke Niforatos, Chief of Staff and Senior Policy Advisor for Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). “Our education system remains remarkably underfunded, our young people are using marijuana at record rates, and our law enforcement are being worked to the bone to deal with the drastic increase in underground market activity. This is not the answer to any issue New Mexico faces. Our kids deserve better.”
“The commercialization of marijuana presents very unique risks to our state and should not be rushed through a 30-day legislative session,” said Allen Sanchez, Executive Director of the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops. “With New Mexico routinely ranked near the bottom of the country in terms of education, overall economy, opportunity, drug use, and crime, this is the worst possible option at the worst possible time.”
Marijuana commercialization has routinely resulted in consequences such as sharp increases in marijuana-impaired driving and fatalities, thriving black markets, sustained social injustice, and increased youth use just to name a few. No matter how many states try, marijuana taxation does not bring the promised ‘windfall’ of revenue. Promised social justice equity never materializes, arrest disparities continue, and states see no corresponding drop in prison populations.
“Legalizing recreational cannabis use presents serious concerns for businesses, especially as it relates to the right of a business to maintain a safe and drug-free workplace,” said Terri Cole, President and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. “The inability to reliably test for impairment is a problem that cannot be overlooked. It not only makes it harder to enforce laws against driving under the influence, but businesses are increasingly worried that lawmakers and courts across the nation will force employers to hire or keep employees who fail to pass drug screens.”
“As we have seen in other states such as Colorado and California, legalization only creates a more robust illicit market,” said Sheriff Shane Ferrari, San Juan County Sheriff and a board member of the New Mexico County Sheriff’s Association. “As it stands, our law enforcement programs are not prepared to deal with this new challenge. Additionally, our state is not ready to respond to the increased rates of impaired driving that is part and parcel of a state with a commercial, recreational market.”
“Big Marijuana has been working overtime to hide the ugly truths about the effects of recreational marijuana legalization, but we are proud to be a part of this coalition working to shine a light where the marijuana industry prefers darkness,” said Vince Torres, Executive Director of the Family Policy Alliance of New Mexico. “Commercialized recreational marijuana is wrong for New Mexico and this year our legislators here in Santa Fe must once again reject Big Marijuana.”