SANTA FE, N.M. (Feb 12, 2019) – On Saturday, a New Mexico House committee gave approval to a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational purposes despite federal prohibition.
Introduced by Rep. Javier Martínez and four cosponsors, House Bill 356 (HB356) would establishing a legal marijuana industry that would allow adults 21 and over to smoke or consume cannabis for recreation.
On Saturday, the House Health & Human Services Committee voted 5-2 to pass the bill and send it to the Judiciary committee, with five Democrats voting yes and two Republicans voting no.
In 2007, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson signed into law a bill to create a medical marijuana program in the state. Legalization of recreational marijuana through HB356 would remove another layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.
Despite these efforts, the federal government still claims the power to deem marijuana illegal in New Mexico, and everywhere else in the U.S.
However, FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By ending most of the state’s prohibition, New Mexico would sweep away a vast majority of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.
Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.
With 33 states including allowing cannabis for medical or recreational use today, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.
The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, “No!” to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.
HB356 now moves to the Judiciary committee, where it will need to pass by a majority vote before moving forward.
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