State Senate Snuffs Effort To Legalize Marijuana

Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino


SANTA FE – The State Senate voted down a proposed constitutional amendment Sunday evening that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana on a 17-24 vote.

Before the final vote, however, the Senate approved an amendment that would have raised the legal age to use marijuana from 21 to 25 years of age.

There was some lengthy and spirited debate on Senate Joint Resolution 5 (SJR 5), Use & Tax of Marijuana & Revenue, CA,  sponsored by Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-12-Bernalillo, who has introduced similar measures the past several years only to have them die in committee.

Ortiz y Pino expressed optimism that this was the first year the effort to legalize marijuana has reached the Senate Floor for a vote.

“Every year this measure gains a little more momentum and I think that every year from now on out it will move along further and further,” he said. “Four other states have already legalized marijuana and have seen some positive effects on their economies. I am hopeful that we can join them in the near future.”

Ortiz y Pino told other senators during the committee process that legalizing marijuana would free law enforcement from chasing marijuana smokers and empty jails of non-violent offenders. The constitutional amendment, if it had passed the Senate and the House of Representatives, would have had to be approved or denied by voters in the next general election.