This year in the Roundhouse we have seen a number of competing legalization bills, but only two have any true social justice equity provisions, and only those two actually address the shortage of cannabis supply in the medical program.

Unfortunately, most of the attention for legalization has focused on production limits for growing cannabis. The focus needs to be on protecting the medical program and social justice measures. Putting forth any cannabis legalization bill without comprehensive social justice and equity provisions is questionable, especially in New Mexico, a minority-majority state.

Current legislative bills would create a system of regulation to be built on the back of current medical cannabis laws. But that infrastructure is not designed to serve the supply and demands of a new recreational cannabis law with limited production. Remember, multiple times in recent years we have had District Court judges in Santa Fe declare the state Department of Health regulatory cannabis plant count to be arbitrary and capricious.

Not limiting how many cannabis plants a licensee can grow actually limits the black market activity. Limiting production will make it harder to meet the supply needs for the consumer, as well as those for the Medical Cannabis Program.

Allowing homegrown cannabis is also a social justice measure. Of all other states that have begun legal cannabis sales over the years, only one — Illinois — has outlawed the ability for people to grow plants at home. Washington state this year is adding home-grow measures to its legalization law.

Colorado does not limit production or ban homegrown, which has not impacted tax revenues that have grown every year. The city of Denver has more cannabis licenses than the state of California, and it’s a safer city to live than Albuquerque.

House Bill 12, by Reps. Javier Martínez, Andrea Romero and Debbie Armstrong, and Senate Bill 363, by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, are the two best options for legalization in New Mexico in 2021.

Keys in the bills:

u HB 12 and SB 363 both address the “shortage of cannabis supply in the medical program.”

u HB 12 and SB 363 both address the plant cap: “The division shall not limit the number of plants the licensee may possess, cultivate or manufacture.”

u HB 12 and SB 363 both provide this: “An individual appointed to the cannabis regulatory advisory committee shall not hold any ownership interest or investment in a licensed entity pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation Act.”

u HB 12 and SB 363 both allow intergovernmental agreements with Indian nations, tribes and Pueblos regarding legalization.

u HB 12 and SB 363 both create a public education campaigns

u HB 12 and SB 363 both have social justice equity measures

u HB 12 has the Department of Health handling the cannabis patient registry; SB 363 does not partner with the department in any way.

Jason Barker is a medical cannabis patient, advocate and cannabis policy expert who has successfully petitioned the state and had five new health conditions added to the state’s Medical Cannabis Program in recent years, with four additional measures awaiting final decisions. Barker does not hold any ownership interest or investment in any licensed entity or ancillary entity pursuant to the current medical cannabis industry or the proposed Cannabis Regulation Act.

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