New Mexico is edging closer to becoming the next US state to embrace cannabis – and it might just beat its ancient namesake to fully legalising marijuana.
Lawmakers in Santa Fe this week began laying the groundworks to bring about legislation to lift all prohibition on weed by spring 2020.
Meanwhile, 1,468 miles to the south, hopeful politicians who had promised to deliver on a government pledge to bring about change and legalise marijuana by a deadline of October 23 continue to dither over the final details.
Authorities in Mexico City were due to put the entire nation on the global stage with a bold move to make recreational cannabis completely legal, banishing the controlling drug cartels to the shadows and giving a lethargic economy the shot in the arm it so desperately requires.
However, despite the posturing and promises, it now seems as though the absolute deadline that Mexico set itself was more of a guideline than a rule.
When the Senate presented its final bill to the Supreme Court on October 18 – the body which had set the October 23 deadline in 2018 – it believed it was doing so with enough time to accommodate various reviews and inspections.
Alas, as is often the case, bureaucracy got the better of common sense and the Senate was forced to apply for a deadline extension – much to the chagrin of the Supreme Court.
By now, Mexico’s 130m population should be able to consider purchasing state-regulated marijuana products free of the foul practices of the many controlling cartels which haunt the nation.
Instead, they are no closer to having legalisation in place than they were 12 months ago.
Flicking the switch
New Mexico, on the other hand, is on the brink of flicking the switch that will see it illuminated alongside Colorado, California, Nevada, Washington and several other pioneer states to have given full relaxation to the laws surrounding cannabis.
There, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham called for a thorough report several months ago into the projected outcomes of becoming a weed-friendly state.
The report concluded New Mexico would benefit to the tune of 11,000 jobs with pot sales topping $620m a year. Some of the report’s recommendations involved a Canadian-style expunging of convictions.
It means Governor Grisham could have a comprehensive reform plan on the table for the 30-day legislative sessions which opens in the new year – paving the way for New Mexico to have cannabis legalised by spring.
Whether or not Mexico will be able to figure out its own tangle of bureaucracy by then is anyone’s guess. For now, though, it would seem the new has the upper hand over the old.