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New Mexico marijuana task force proposes licensing companies

September 11, 2019

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico task force examining the regulatory options for legalizing recreational marijuana has opposed state-run marijuana stores, officials said.

The Cannabis Legalization Working Group initiated by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham endorsed the idea of a traditional licensing system in a Tuesday meeting at Albuquerque City Hall, officials said. That means companies would be permitted to grow and sell marijuana, and operate its stores.

The recommendations are similar to what’s already in place for the medical cannabis program, said Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, who leads the working group.

“It’s a compromise between letting experts regulate the industry and letting cities decide how they’re going to operate,” Davis told the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Part of the recommendation includes prohibiting local governments from being able to ban marijuana sales entirely within their jurisdictions, the group members said. However, cities and counties would still be allowed to impose zoning restrictions and similar regulations.

Lujan Grisham has supported the idea and plans to add marijuana legalization to the agenda for next year’s legislative session, she said.

A bill to legalize recreational cannabis passed the House this year, but it did not clear the Senate, officials said. It isn’t clear whether lawmakers will agree to legalize recreational marijuana in the next session.

The working group is comprised of lawmakers, Cabinet secretaries, members of the medical marijuana industry and others, officials said. Their final meeting is scheduled for Sept. 25 in Santa Fe. Key remaining questions include how to handle prohibitions on driving under the influence and roadside testing for marijuana intoxication.

The group has plans to give the governor a recommendation in October, after the last meeting, that could be considered in interim legislative committee meetings.

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