Pubdate: Fri, 29 Jan 2016
Source: Albuquerque Journal (NM)
Copyright: 2016 Albuquerque Journal
Author: Deborah Baker


Measures Again Pushed to Allow Sale, Possession in New Mexico

SANTA FE - Sixty-one percent of New Mexicans surveyed this month said 
they support legalizing marijuana, and doing that would bump up state 
revenues by tens of millions of dollars, legalization supporters said Thursday.

"If it can get on the ballot, it's going to pass," said Sen. Gerald 
Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, who once again is sponsoring a 
constitutional change to legalize marijuana possession, regulate its 
production and sale, and tax it.

It's at best an uphill battle for legalization supporters in the 
Legislature. His similar proposal couldn't get through the 
Democratic-run Senate last year, and it's highly likely the 
Republican-led House would reject it.

The telephone survey of 406 adults around the state was conducted by 
Research & Polling Inc. of Albuquerque and commissioned by the Drug 
Policy Alliance and a coalition of groups including licensed 
marijuana producers.

It showed 61 percent of respondents in support of legalizing, taxing 
and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over, and 34 percent opposed.

Support jumped - to 69 percent - when respondents were informed of 
the restrictions and potential uses for the revenue, health care 
programs and drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

Support was strongest among men, those under 65, voters registered as 
Democrats or as independents, and those not registered to vote.

The majority of adults were supportive in every major geographic region.

Research & Polling President Brian Sanderoff said the survey also 
showed a "tremendous level of support" - 71 percent - for the 
existing law, passed in 2007, allowing the use of marijuana for some 
medical conditions.

The Drug Policy Alliance said backing for marijuana legalization has 
grown since its 2013 survey, also done by Research & Polling, that 
put support at 52 percent - although the 2013 survey was of 
registered voters, while the recent survey was of adults generally.

Yet another poll, done by Research & Polling in 2014 for the 
Albuquerque Journal, showed 44 percent of likely voters in favor of a 
constitutional change to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

"The data is very impressive," said Duke Rodriguez, former secretary 
of the Human Services Department under Republican Gov. Gary Johnson 
and former health care executive who now runs an Arizona-based 
company that grows medical marijuana in Bernalillo.

"Clearly, New Mexicans want to legalize and have adult use," said 
Rodriguez, whose company was among a coalition that helped fund this 
month's study.

He said New Mexico could experience the same "green rush" as Colorado 
and predicted 15,000 jobs could eventually be created.

"It's money we desperately need, and it's taking money out of the 
(drug) cartel and putting it back in the mainstream," Rodriguez told 
a news conference.

Supporters estimate New Mexico could bring in between $20 million and 
$60 million annually by taxing marijuana.

Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, who is sponsoring a legalization 
bill, said the movement also could spark young people to be more 
interested in politics.

"Why would we not work on a policy that 87 percent of young people 
think is worth doing?" McCamley said, referring to one of the 
survey's findings.

Fifty-one percent of survey respondents said they have used marijuana.

"My guess is it would be a few points higher" because some 
respondents might have been reluctant to answer that question 
truthfully, Sanderoff said.

The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 4.9 percentage 
points, according to Research & Polling.

Ortiz y Pino is sponsoring two constitutional amendments, Senate 
Joint Resolutions 5 and 6. Senate Joint Resolution 5 would require 
that the revenue from taxing marijuana be used for Medicaid or for 
drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs. Senate Joint Resolution 6 
doesn't earmark the revenue.

McCamley's legalization bill is House Bill 75.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom