Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announces during a news conference Saturday that there will be a special session to vote on the cannabis bill.

Plans to hold a special legislative session during Holy Week to reach a deal on legalizing recreational marijuana is drawing sharp criticism from Republican leaders.

While Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has yet to announce a start date, she said at the conclusion of the 60-day session Saturday that a special session would be held “on or about March 31.” Good Friday is April 2, and Easter Sunday is April 4.

The governor’s press secretary wrote in an email Thursday that more information about the special session would be provided “as soon as the start date is finalized.”

said he expects the special session will “probably start Tuesday or Wednesday.”

“We don’t have a date nailed down until she actually makes the call,” he said.

Baca called it “poor timing” to hold a special session during Holy Week. But in general, he said, New Mexico shouldn’t be holding a special session to address the legalization of recreational marijuana, which lawmakers were unable to reach agreement on during the regular session.

“I think 60 days was sufficient, and it didn’t pass in 60 days, so at best what we’re going to get now is a rushed measure,” he said.

Baca also criticized the cost.

If the state maintains the same level of security at the Roundhouse as it did during the 60-day session, “you could be looking up to $90,000 a day — those are dollars that we could save for the taxpayers,” Baca said.

In a Wednesday letter to the governor, Republican leaders in the state House of Representatives also raised concerns about the cost, which they pegged at closer to $83,000 a day.

Raúl Burciaga, director of the Legislative Council Service, said costs can vary but generally run about $50,000 a day. While security will still be evident, it won’t be as beefed up as it was during the regular session, he said.

“We won’t have checkpoints, and we won’t have a fence up,” he said, adding he hopes to get the fence down by Monday or Tuesday morning.

Burciaga also didn’t know when the governor would call the special session.

“I don’t have a specific date or time yet,” he said.

House Republican leaders deemed it “troubling” for the governor to call a special session less than two weeks after the end of a regular 60-day session.

“Special sessions should only be called to deal with an emergency or unique event that requires the Legislature’s quick attention,” they wrote. “Traditionally, special sessions in New Mexico are called in order to take action on a budget emergency. … A special session should never be considered as a convenient extension of a regular session whose sole purpose is to continue deliberations on legislation that is neither essential nor related to an economic crisis.”

The letter was signed by House Minority Leader Rep. Jim Townsend of Artesia, Minority Whip Rep. Rod Montoya of Farmington and Rep. Rebecca Dow of Truth or Consequences. Dow serves as caucus chairwoman.

In their letter, House GOP leaders also expressed concerns about the possibility that other issues, not just adult-use cannabis, would be added to the call. But their “strong disappointment” with the timing of a special session was highlighted in a Thursday news release, which stated: “MLG pushing for ‘holy grail’ pot bill, while blocking Easter holiday again for second year.” It was a reference to government-ordered church shutdowns last year at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Picking a date during Holy Week appears to be a cynical attempt of using Easter to pressure legislators to cave to your political desires if they want to spend the Easter holiday at home with their families. As you are well aware, Easter holds a special and unique significance for many New Mexico families and to use or most sacred holiday as leverage to further your effort to legalized a psychoactive drug is unconscionable,” the letter states.

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

(34) comments

Angel Ortiz

Funny how the GOP uses a religious tone in this case. If the Legislature had done their due diligence during the regular session this wouldn't even be an issue. Legalize recreational marijuana and be done with it.

Sabine Strohem

Is the gist that the "GOP" stalled so much they thought it was dead again?

Alexis Martinez Johnson

The GOP can’t really stall very much. There is no balance. In the Governor’s haste, she was myopic in that she did not take into account that many people will be celebrating this time which she has scheduled a special session. No matter what religion you are or are not a basic principle we hold is that of respect and the freedom to practice a religion. Clearly, with more than 1/3 of New Mexicans being Catholic in the “Holy City of Faith” you would have some basic decency as a Governor to respect legislators and the communities they represent.

Francisco Carbajal

I want to remind Governor Michelle Lujan-Grisham that in New Mexico, the sacred term of "Holy Week" (Semana Santa) is not for her to disrespect or abuse. Here in Northern, NM (Rural Pueblos and Villages), we have century-old religious ceremonies, traditions, customs, and sacred ritual's that have been in existence and practiced by generational families forever. Who is she to define our existence by using these sacred terms for her political views that she lives and thrives on a daily basis? Lastly, it is sac-religious for any political subdivision, including the Governor to hold any type of government business on the days of "Obligation" (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturdays) that are SACRED to many other cultures and religions in NM other than her own political culture. For the new arrival's who do not understand and comprehend on what is happening in Northern, New Mexico from a culture perspective, learn the historical significance of these beautiful pueblos and villages that are your next doo neighbor's. This is not a mega-urban center like Chicago, Phoenix, New York City, etc. We still have a little bit of respect and dignity in our "traditional ways of life up North." Frankly, I don't think Grisham-Lujan and the NM State Legislature knows the difference.

Lupe Molina

All Christians have customs for Holy Week. Also, separation of church and state make your totally long winded argument utterly irrelevant.

Francisco Carbajal

Mrs. Lupe Molina, why do you keep making insensitive commentaries directly to my postings? Do you know me or where have we met? What gives you permission to disrespect an elder from the community with your commentaries? Regardless if my political opinion's does not reflect yours, the basic decency thing that you can do for now is settle down and stop being a mean-spirited person. In terms of my own political opinions against the political machine, they do not represent you and/or any other person,. I have a moral and ethical right to call them to their poor judgement calls just like you and everyone else. So, why not just leave me alone, stop being a mean-spirted person with others, and go on with your business as usual?

Lupe Molina

None of it is mean spirited, stop vicitimizing. The rules for this forum encourage vigorous debate. If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen.

Angel Ortiz

Exactly! [thumbup]

Francisco Carbajal

Ms. Lupe Molina, what are you talking about "the rules for this forum encourage vigorous debate. If you can't handle the heat, get out of the kitchen." Really, where is this kitchen that are you talking about? Clearly, you have no comprehension on what the "rules of engagement" are about relating to cultural sensitivity and culture competence" in this forum. The separation of church and state arguments that you are referring to belong to the NM - ACLU clowns down in Burque, period! Maybe, that is the primary "kitchen" location that you belong to, right?

zach miller

no one is infringing on your right to observe the religion that committed genocide your ancestors

Francisco Carbajal

Mr. Zach Miller, I am not asking for your opinion relating to the Northern New Mexico culture? If you want to join the "mean-spirit" sister Lupe Molina , you can do so.

Daniel Valdez


You'll have to excuse the party of inclusiveness and unity. They can't even figure out what gender they might be today or tomorrow...they know much less about what cultural or traditional respect entails.

Khal Spencer

Reefer Madness (1936), full movie.


Comment deleted.
Lupe Molina

Dude, you are hilarious. This comment is amazing. I'm dying. 🤣💀

Francisco Carbajal

next door neighbor's (vecinos)

Comment deleted.
Khal Spencer

Cheech and Chong and the Freak Brothers cartoons are actually my favorites. My college showed Reefer Madness one year as the campus Friday movie. Needless to say, everyone showed up stoned and it was pretty funny.

Comment deleted.
Angel Ortiz

I'll take a stoner over an angry alcoholic any day of the week. Ever see an alcoholic have withdrawals? It's similar to the GOP and they cry baby antics.

David Ford

ww.ffrf.org !!!!

Tiffany Thomas

I mean isn't there separation of church and state?

Charles W Rodriguez

awwww...poor republican babies. For a party that does everything they can do to disenfranchise voters, they really need a spiritual belief system that God is still on their side.

Jerry Appel

If the Republicans don't want to show up for the Special Session that's fine by me. It will simply mean a lot more gets done in a lot less time. I sure hope they don't show up with this lame excuse which I view as a violation of the exclusion clause of the First Amendment.

Khal Spencer

Oh, come on. MLG wants us all to have a reefer in our Easter Basket.

John Cook

[thumbup] The grammarian in me points out that 'a reefer' is a refrigerated truck. What we all want in our Easter baskets is 'reefer'.

Khal Spencer


David Ford

you're dating yourself Khal [smile]

Khal Spencer

I'm getting so old that pretty soon they will have to carbon-date me.

Lupe Molina

Ugh. Cry me a river. Then stop obstructing during the regular session and get your work done in a timely manner. State GOP increasingly sound like a kid who flunked every class and now just heard he has to go to summer school.

John Cook


Alexis Martinez Johnson

They can’t obstruct they do not have the numbers. Everything is all systems go with no checks and balances. It’s saying hey look it’s Good Friday, Easter, and Passover. Session work occurred on the weekend during the regular session. Basically, it says she’s too impatient to be respectful to more than 1/3 of New Mexicans who will decide to vote for her and many of which are from the same political party.

zach miller

The person concerned with the budget should consider voting to legalize, how their constituents want them to vote, instead of how the Grand Old Complainers force them to; NM can reap back all costs for this special session, and quickly with recreational marijuana.

I also don't understand how wanting to get a special session done by March 31st infringes on the activities of a person in April.

Typical GOP, going to complain the entire time for no reason, just because they want to be a victim, then they will all vote in unison together, and their vote won't represent the people that elected them in the first place.

I know the GOP will never have a good idea, but the fact they only have the one play they use over and over and over and over is rather trite.

Abe Rivera

Dear GOP,

Some of us normal people work during Holy Week too.


Harvey Morgan II

Lots of us "normal" people work during Holy Week. Most of us who work for a private business are glad that Easter is on a Sunday so we usually get that day off.

Stefanie Beninato

Yeah, except for people in the tourism business especially restaurants where people go to have Easter dinners.

Alexis Martinez Johnson

Yeah most people work but you have someone that is calling a special session right during Good Friday and Easter. So this is not an emergency or is that she wants the bill now. I mean take into account what you’re doing. It’s tone deaf. Similar to buying the expensive beef and alcohol on taxpayers’s money in a pandemic. It shows lack of insight and her advisers are not even able to say hey look.

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