Approximately three months ago, New Mexico governor, Michelle Grisham signed a marijuana decriminalization bill into law. That law officially took effect yesterday July 1).
In that law, the possession of up to half an ounce of cannabis is no longer a crime punishable by jail time. Instead, the person pays a $50 fine. The punishments for possessing drug paraphernalia have also been reduced.
This law makes New Mexico the 24th state to decriminalize marijuana. Hawaii appears set to enact a similar law soon after the governor revealed that he will not veto a decriminalization bill if it is brought to his desk.
While pro-marijuana advocates were happy that the decriminalization bill was signed into law in New Mexico, they were still disappointed that broader legalization didn’t happen during this session of the legislature. Gov. Grisham had promised to make this happen when she was campaigning for office.
The passing of the decriminalization law doesn’t, however, mean that the governor has reneged on her promise to see marijuana legalized in the state. Last week, Grisham announced that she had formed a working group charged with studying legalization in other states and give her a report about the best way to handle legalization next year.
New Mexico isn’t alone in that club of states whose legalization plans failed this year. New York State was also on the brink of passing a legalization law, but disagreements over how to implement the recreational marijuana program resulted in the state budget for the next fiscal year being read without recreational marijuana in it, and then legislators ran out of time to hammer out a final deal on legalization before the end of the legislative session. Legalization now appears to be farther away than it has ever been.
In lieu of the legalization law, New York legislators passed a decriminalization bill which will see the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis being punished by a $200 fine instead of serving a custodial sentence.
Another failed legalization attempt happened in New Jersey where lawmakers suddenly called off a senate vote on the matter when it became apparent that support wasn’t sufficient to see the bill through. Not even the last-ditch efforts of the governor and legislative leaders could swing more votes in the senate. Now advocates seem resigned to taking the matter to voters in 2020.
Illinois was the one bright example for advocates after the legislature passed a broad legalization law which will be the model for marijuana social justice for years to come. Recreational cannabis will be available on January 1, 2020, across the 11th state to legalize marijuana.
Cannabis industry commentators think that the entire industry, including participants like Wildflower Brands Inc. (CSE: SUN) (OTCQB: WLDFF) and VPR Brands LP (OTC: VPRB), will heave a sigh of relief that New Mexico has provided some good news to break the chain of legislative disappointments.
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