Marijuana legalization measure sparks debate

Posted at: 01/24/2013 5:30 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

One of the most talked-about bills of the legislative session hasn't even been introduced yet, but the plan to legalize marijuana will get plenty of debate.

Some kind of legislation is likely to come up on the marijuana issue. There is too much interest in the issue for it to stay off the table.

The debate has already been settled in a Colorado and that’s given steam to the pro-marijuana faction which says legalize it, regulate it, tax it, fewer people in jail, and more money for the state.

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D- Albuquerque) is mulling over what action to take in the legislative session.

"I think there was a surprise in Colorado that it won so handily and I think what you're seeing is a reflection of a change in the demographics - the people that are voting now don't have some of the same attitudes that people 10, 15, 20 years ago would have had,” he said

Ortiz y Pino says it could go three ways: A constitutional amendment that voters would vote on, a bill to reduce penalties or a memorial to study the consequences of legal weed.

But there are plenty of lawmakers who don't have any appetite for any of those options.

"I'm not sure it's a good idea anyway but let's say it is introduced and comes out - I think there would be some difficulty in getting votes - I don't think the [governor’s office] would necessarily support the concept - I don't see that it's necessarily a good plan to try to introduce during the session,” Sen. Steve Neville (R-Farmington) said.

Lawmakers said they think Gov. Susana Martinez – a former district attorney from Las Cruces - would be highly unlikely to sign any bill reducing penalties for pot. Her signature, however, is not needed for a constitutional amendment or a memorial studying the idea.