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A marathon two-day special legislative session was enough to finish the job. After more than 10 years of effort, legislators in New Mexico sent the governor two bills on Wednesday. The bills legalize cannabis in the state and expunge previous cannabis convictions.

House Bill 2, a legalization effort sponsored by Representatives Javier Martinez, Debbie Armstrong and Andrea Romero with Senators Katie Duhigg and Linda Lopez, was based strongly on House Bill 12 from the 2021 60-day legislative session, which started with five different legalization bills but adjourned without passing any.

As expected, the State House easily passed HB2 on Wednesday morning.

In the Senate, it passed committee and landed on the Senate floor where a competing Republican bill, sponsored by Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R-Roswell), was waiting. Senate leaders ultimately decided to convene a “committee of the whole,” essentially a meeting of the full Senate meeting as a committee to hear both bills at once. It proved to be a test vote for legalization.

After more than three hours of debate and amendments, Senators passed the Democratic-sponsored bill, HB2, 23-19 and rejected Pirtle’s Republican bill 6-36. Democrat Jacob Candelaria voted with Republicans for Pirtle’s bill. Most Republicans did not support it.

After a brief break, Senators passed House Bill 2 in a quick floor vote, 22-15.

House members were standing by and expected to quickly concur with the Senate vote before adjourning.

The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham who has championed legalization. If you wonder whether she will sign the bill…

Criminal Justice Reform Passes, Too

Lujan Grisham and advocates for legalization made clear that they would not vote for legalization without social justice components. Key among those expectations was the expungement of criminal convictions for marijuana charges that, under the new laws, could no longer be illegal.

That bill, Senate Bill 6, also passed and will be on the desk of the governor alongside HB2.

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