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Q & A: Policy choices abound in legalization debate

Copyright © 2020 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – Hefty majorities of New Mexico residents say they support the legalization of marijuana for adults.

But inside the state Capitol it isn’t as simple as voting yes or no.

Legislators face an array of policy questions touching on business regulations, water rights and agriculture, law enforcement, workplace safety and criminal justice.

Rep. Javier Martinez, an Albuquerque Democrat working on a legalization proposal for the 2021 session, said he and his colleagues have spent years debating and researching the policy choices.

“It’s a complex issue. We’ve got to get it right,” he said in an interview. “We’ve got to get it right for communities of color. We’ve got to get it right for economic development. We’ve got to get it right for public safety.”

Martinez said his “approach will be to listen to all sides and incorporate as much of the feedback as I can.”

Opponents, in turn, say the complex policy questions underscore that legalization isn’t worthwhile.

“I think there are so many problems around it,” Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, said.

A Journal Poll conducted earlier this year found that 61% of New Mexico adults surveyed said they support legalizing marijuana, with 33% opposed. The scientific survey – conducted by Research & Polling Inc. – had a margin of error of 4.3 percentage points.

Here’s a look at some of the questions lawmakers are expected to consider as they evaluate proposals to legalize recreational cannabis.

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