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Tierna Unruh-Enos is the managing editor and associate publisher at The Paper.

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During this year’s 60-day legislative session, we saw a five cannabis legalization bills being considered by the state’s lawmakers. Governor Lujan Grisham stated that cannabis legalization was a top priority. A survey conducted in 2019 by Research & Polling Inc. found that 60 percent of voters in New Mexico would support a bill to legalize recreational cannabis. And in every region polled, the majority of voters were supporters, too. Those numbers closely align with national polls as well. Sixty-seven percent of Americans polled by Pew Research said marijuana should be legal, with only 32 percent in opposition. Fifteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized cannabis for adults over the age of 21. Four more states—New Jersey, Montana, South Dakota and Arizona—all passed recreational cannabis legislation last November. The cannabis economy might see an even bigger boost with the election of President Joe Biden.

As of press time, the Senate Judiciary Committee met on March 1, and made amendments to the Democratic House Bill 12. The outstanding GOP Senate Bill 288, introduced by Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R Roswell), isn’t dead either. Legislators are searching for common ground among advocates for legalization, who say the industry would help New Mexico’s economic recovery from the pandemic. Diverging views on taxation, licensing and pardon procedures for past convictions are complicating efforts to bring a final bill to a crucial Senate vote. many thought legalization efforts were a shoo-in, and with a more progressive Legislative body than ever before, it seemed inevitable. Legislators have until the close of the regular legislative session at noon on March 20 to send bills to the governor’s desk.

Will they, or won’t they? Time is running out and anything could happen.

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