SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A panel of legislators delved into the uncertain market economics of legalizing recreational marijuana and thorny concerns about public health on Wednesday, in a prelude to a rapid-fire legislative session that could open the doors to recreational cannabis in New Mexico.
A legalization work group assembled by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham is pitching an oversight system that would limit state and local taxes on recreational marijuana to roughly 17% and license producers for as little as $500 a month with additional per-plant fees.
Medical marijuana would become tax-free and be sold separately at all dispensaries, under the recommendations, in an effort to ensure affordable access to patients coping with conditions such as nausea and pain from cancer. About 78,000 people participate in the medical program.
Legislators listened at a public hearing as University of New Mexico economics professor Sarah Stith cautioned against legalization measures that might make retail prices uncompetitive with Colorado’s recreational market, through restrictions on supplies or excessive taxation.
“You can’t push that tax too high or it’s just going to go on the black market,” she said.
The work group’s chairman, Albuquerque City