Today’s the day. The New Mexico Department of Health has run the clock on a court order to come up with a number, and a reason behind it, of how many medical cannabis plants can be grown in the state. Last year, a state district court judge gave the state’s Department of Health about four months to determine a maximum number of plants medical cannabis producers can have at any given time. And the judge ordered the department to back their decision up with data. The department asked for a last-minute extension from the court, which the judge denied.
The owners of WisePies, the company that has the naming rights to the legendary University of New Mexico basketball arena known to most as The Pit, solicited political donations from the university’s athletic director. NM Fishbowl, a news website focusing on UNM, first reported on the news earlier this week. WisePies, a pizza chain located primarily in the Albuquerque area, owns the naming rights to The Pit. The arena is officially called WisePies Arena aka The Pit. According to the NM Fishbowl story, a spokesperson for WisePies asked UNM Athletic Director Paul Krebs if he and his wife would co-host a campaign fundraiser for Candace Gould, a Republican then running for state Senate.
Less than a week before Republican vice presidential nominee Mike Pence is scheduled to headline a fundraiser in New Mexico, the Libertarian Party ticket will hold a public rally in Albuquerque. The Gary Johnson campaign told NM Political Report that Johnson and his running mate Bill Weld will appear at the Albuquerque Convention Center this Thursday, the first such rally by Johnson in New Mexico since he became the Libertarian Party presidential nominee. Many in New Mexico still remember Johnson from his two terms as governor. Often referred to as “Governor No,” Johnson takes pride in the high number of bills he vetoed while in office. Weld is a former two-term governor of Massachusetts.
A State Senator who helped lead criminal justice reform efforts in New Mexico is backing Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson for president and announced her role as the state chairwoman for the Johnson campaign. Lisa Torraco, a Republican from Albuquerque, issued a press release Wednesday announcing the news. Torraco previously announced on Twitter she backed Johnson. Johnson served two terms as governor in New Mexico, though he was a Republican at the time. “As a New Mexican, I am proud to see that our state could play a pivotal role in deciding this election,” Torraco said in her statement.
Darren White’s view on marijuana changed drastically in the past two decades. Nearly 20 years ago, he resigned from then-Gov. Gary Johnson’s administration after Johnson backed marijuana legalization. Now, White not only backs Johnson, he’s come around to Johnson’s point of view on marijuana legalization (with some caveats). Related: See why White is backing Johnson for president
White isn’t alone among Republicans (yes, White remains a Republican despite backing the Libertarian Party nominee for president). A recently-released poll by YouGov found that a narrow plurality of Republicans back marijuana legalization: 45 percent to 42 percent.
Darren White resigned from Gary Johnson’s administration over the then-governor’s push for marijuana legalization. Now, White thinks that Johnson should be the next president. Last Thursday, just before the end of the Republican National Convention, White took to Twitter to announce his support for Johnson. “This year I can’t back the GOP,” White wrote. “And I’m not alone.”
In a room with about 100 people—a mix of students and older adults—Gary Johnson signs pocket constitutions, takes selfies with young people and literally kisses the cheek of at least one child. Johnson just finished an hour-long forum at the University of New Mexico hosted by the Young Americans for Liberty. Some of the older people in the crowd ask about his family and reminisce about his tenure as the governor of New Mexico in the mid to late 1990s. “There were no pizza parties,” one woman says, smugly referring to an event in Santa Fe involving beer bottles thrown off a hotel balcony and a possibly intoxicated Gov. Susana Martinez. This piece also appeared in the April 20 edition of the ABQ Free Press.
The Senate rejected legislation Sunday evening that would have allowed voters to decide whether to legalize and tax the sale of marijuana in New Mexico. After a 45 minute debate, the Senate voted 17-24 to against the proposed constitutional amendment sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque. Ortiz y Pino, who has pushed similar legislation in previous years, said he proposed the legislation as a constitutional amendment to send a message to the federal government. He called the federal regulation on marijuana a “wrongheaded approach.”
“I only hope this is one time New Mexico will not be the 49th state to act,” Ortiz y Pino said. While some Democratic members voted against the proposal, only Republican members spoke out in opposition.
The New Mexico Department of Health announced on Monday that they were offering licenses to 12 more non-profits to grow medical marijuana. New Mexico now has 35 licensed medical marijuana providers, though the process is not complete for the approved non-profits. If you want to know who these non-profits are, you will have to keep waiting, because the department kept the veil of secrecy that surrounds the program up. Open government advocates and journalists have sought more information on the applicants and past approved non-profits to little effect. DOH did release some information about the non-profits, including which counties the non-profits will operate in.
A local watchdog journalist and government transparency advocate was able to dig up names of potential medical marijuana producers primarily through his own searches instead of official records requests. Peter St. Cyr, an independent journalist, published some names of people that may have applied to become the next round of medical marijuana growers and sellers in New Mexico in the Santa Fe Reporter. He and other transparency advocates have argued these should be public, while Department of Health regulations keep them secret. St.