February 6, 2015

Bill to legalize marijuana is tabled in first committee

A bill that allow the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes was quashed in a House committee Friday morning.

All but one member of a House Committee voted to table the Cannabis Revenue and Freedom Act.


Rep. Bill McCamley, D-Mesilla Park, presented his HB 160 to the House Agriculture, Water and Wildlife Committee. McCamley, who is also a committee member, was the only one from the group to cast a dissenting vote for tabling the bill.

Under the proposed legislation, both marijuana and industrial hemp would be regulated and taxed by the state. Currently medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico as long as the grower and purchaser abide by specific state laws.

McCamley started his presentation with a request that the rest of the committee take the bill seriously and give it a fair chance. Committee Chair Candy Spence Ezzell, R-Roswell, told the bill’s sponsor  she was confident in the members and their ability to look at the bill seriously.

What followed was a very detailed presentation on why McCamley believes legalized marijuana would be good for New Mexico. According to McCamley’s evidence, legalizing marijuana on the state level would eliminate gang violence in Central and South America. He also compared the use of marijuana to the use of other legal substances, such as alcohol. McCamley told the committee that it would be much easier to overdose on alcohol than on marijuana.

“If I go out and buy two bottles of Jack Daniels and drink them, I will die,” he said.

All five Republicans commented on the bill, a rarity for this session in the House. In many House committees this session, Republicans have kept questions and comments to a minimum and let their votes do the talking.

Only one Democratic member, Rep. Dona Irwin, D-Deming, made a comment about the bill. She, like the Republican members, commended McCamley on his determination and hard work in presenting the bill. She told the committee she could not support the bill.

Ultimately, all of the members that commented began by saying they didn’t have questions but instead had comments. Most of those comments were refuting McCamley’s evidence.

Rep. Bob Wooley, R-Roswell, said he did not agree with one of McCamley’s claims that the substance makes users non-violent.

Wooley told a story about when he was stationed in Vietnam. He recounted an incident when some military soldiers allegedly ingested marijuana and set off a series of grenades, ending with a number of injured people. About claims that marijuana made people “mellow,” Wooley said, “I don’t believe that. I’m sorry, I just don’t.”

After a motion to table the bill by Rep. Andy Nunez, R-Hatch, and a second by Irwin, the committee put the bill to rest, likely for the rest of the session.

When it came time to vote, two of the five Democrats had left the committee and therefore did not vote. Reps. Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales, D-Ranchos De Taos, and George Dodge, D-Santa Rosa, left the meeting before the vote.


  • Andy Lyman

    Andy Lyman is an Albuquerque based reporter. He previously covered the New Mexico's legislative session for the New Mexico News Network and served as a reporter and host for numerous news outlets.