Friday, March 24, 2023

In the Weeds: It’s True, Governor’s Campaign Embraces Cannabis


Cannabis legalization will be on the ballot in five states this November, as the popularity, acceptance and tolerance for the still federally illegal plant continues to grow

Of course, New Mexico is not among them. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham took matters into her own hands last year, calling the Legislature into special session to pass a bill that legalized possession of moderate amounts of cannabis, allowed people to grow it at home, and opened the door to commercial sales to begin this year.

No, cannabis is not on the ballot in New Mexico this year – not even as a campaign issue. The gubernatorial candidates have mostly been talking about other matters, like energy, the economy, education and how the other one is a liar.

MLG doesn’t mind talking about cannabis. In fact, she boasts about it.

Her campaign website touts cannabis, film and cybersecurity as new industries she’s attracted to New Mexico during her first term.

“Michelle kept her campaign promise to legalize cannabis, partnering with small businesses, advocates, and legislators to create an entirely new statewide economic industry in New Mexico that prioritizes homegrown microbusinesses and local producers,” it says. It goes on to plug the promise of 11,000 new jobs, an estimated $318 million in annual sales (proving to be an overestimate) and “serious tax revenue for local governments to support local services in every corner of New Mexico.”

Her opponent, former TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti, hasn’t said much about cannabis, in keeping with a lot of Republicans around the country who prefer to stay silent on the issue. When asked, he emphasizes the importance of keeping marijuana away from children and prosecuting drugged drivers. His campaign website is devoid of any mention of cannabis (or even marijuana for that matter). Not surprising, as legalization is favored by a vast majority of New Mexicans and comes down as a winning issue for the incumbent.

Ronchetti’s website doesn’t specifically mention cannabis but criticizes Lujan Grisham’s “radical liberal policies,” adding that two of her landmark achievements are reducing penalties on drug offenses and decriminalizing drug paraphernalia.

When he talks about improving the economy, it’s tax relief for working families, oil and gas rebates, and building a workforce targeting health care, science and technology, recreation and tourism -- and I’m pretty sure he’s not referring to recreational cannabis or cannatourism. He says he wants to build the outdoor tourism economy and expand New Mexico True to target such things as the Rio Grande Trail and the Balloon Fiesta.

Should the governor prevail, and she’s leading in the polls, it will be interesting to see where she takes it.

She’s clearly all in.

Will New Mexico True soon be promoting the Cannabis Cup or True certified dispensaries alongside microbreweries, fiery food shows, and wine and chile festivals?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, go out and vote.


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