If, ten years ago, you'd had to place a bet on whether traditionally red Arizona or the comparably liberal state of New Mexico would legalize marijuana first, you’d probably have gone with New Mexico.
But though medical pot is legal in New Mexico — a little over 100,000 residents, about five percent of the population, are cardholders there — the legislature’s attempts to legalize it for everyone have consistently stalled out.
That could change this year.
“Voters purged most conservative Democrats from the New Mexico state Legislature in this year’s primary election,” the Santa Fe New Mexican recently reported. “Their departure means legalization of recreational marijuana has its best chance ever of passing.”
A bill that would do exactly that is already queued up for the upcoming 60-day legislative session that begins January 19. (Ballot issues are much harder to pass in New Mexico than in many other states, so legislators would prefer to do it by statute.)
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, strongly supports legalization, partially on the grounds of its anticipated economic impact, and would be a virtual lock to sign off on such a measure. But if the state fails to pass recreational legalization, Arizona stands to gain.
"Without legalization, Arizona’s recreational market could attract New Mexico residents across the border and depress MMJ sales in that state," Marijuana Business Daily recently noted.