It is likely that the general public will not see drafts of recreational-use cannabis legalization proposals from the legislature until next month, but one group is already suggesting language and looking for a legislative sponsor.
The New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce publicly released an early of a recreational-use cannabis bill that they say highlights what those in the industry see as important issues. The chamber is made up of more than 40 cannabis organizations, ranging from educational and legal groups to actual cultivators and dispensaries.
The chamber’s director, Ben Lewinger, said the group worked tirelessly to come up with language that puts the state first.
“Our members have an agreement that what’s best for their individual companies right now is not necessarily what’s going to be best for the future of cannabis in New Mexico,” Lewinger said.
The chamber’s early draft includes portions that were included in previous legislation, but also adds to them.
One issue that has been publicly discussed, but not included in previous attempts is how to ensure cannabis businesses are mostly local.
The chamber’s proposed solution is to only allow businesses with at least 60 percent of the company owned by those who have lived in the state for two years. Lewinger said the chamber wanted to ensure New Mexicans have a stake in cannabis sales, but also not hinder the flow of capital from outside the state.
“We were trying to strike a balance between it being a true homegrown New Mexico industry, but not limiting the ability for out-of-state money to come into a New Mexico run company,” he said.
Oklahoma, which only has a medical cannabis program, albeit one of the most prosperous in the country, has a provision that requires 25 percent of ownership is locally based. But Oklahoma is also facing a legal challenge in federal court over that requirement. Lewinger said given the pending Oklahoma case, he wouldn’t be surprised if New Mexico faces a similar challenge, if the bill moves forward as written.