During a legislative session where funds are expected to be at a premium, state lawmakers may look seriously at raising revenue through a controversial source: recreational cannabis.
However, lawmakers and industry advocates disagree on just how much the industry might bring to New Mexico. Some see a potential windfall for a state looking to diversify its economy, an industry that could generate up to $800 million in sales annually.
“No other state in the entire country is better postured, better positioned to succeed at legalization than New Mexico,” said Duke Rodriguez, founder of Ultra Health, the largest chain of dispensaries in the state.
But putting a price tag on a long-illegal industry is notoriously difficult, and some lawmakers – including Sen. Bill Tallman, D-Albuquerque – are concerned that the industry may produce less revenue than expected, while requiring funding for education, enforcement and other challenges that come along with legalization.
“I get a little bothered by people who promote this thing as a revenue generator,” Tallman said.
Proposals to legalize cannabis for recreational use have stalled in the state Senate in the past two years, but advocates of a recreational program are more hopeful this time around, partly because of the money and jobs such a program could generate. [Read more at Albuquerque Journal]