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Will New Mexico Be The Next To Legalize?

The state senate has quietly kicked the process into high gear.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

New Mexico might be the sleeper hit of 2019. 

Douglas Graham | CQ Roll Call | Getty Images

While all eyes in the cannabis industry have been focused on New Jersey, where the state legislature has moved closer to legalizing recreational marijuana, New Mexico has quietly and quickly moved to do the same.

The legalization issue often causes years of debate in other states -- including New Jersey -- but not in New Mexico. The state has gone from “let’s talk about this” to “let’s do it” in only a few months.

Related: New Jersey Inches Closer to Legalizing Marijuana Without Voter Referendum

Even Republicans in the state are on board, passing the Cannabis Regulation Act, which passed out of committee in February.

Republican Sen. Cliff Pirtle said the bill was created because “we came to the conclusion that legalization is coming" and Republicans wanted their own version of a proposal for marijuana regulation and taxation.

In the state House, Democratic leaders have devised their own plan.

Related: Wisconsin Governor Backs Effort to Decriminalize Marijuana

Dueling legislation

What remains to be done in New Mexico is to hammer out a compromise between the House and Senate bills.

The bill from House Democrats would allow New Mexico residents over the age of 21 to possess two ounces or less of weed. They also could grow six or fewer plants in their home. While the bill allows towns and counties to ban marijuana sales, it does not allow them to keep residents from growing cannabis in their home.

The Senate Republican bill nixes growing weed in your residence. It also creates a commission to control the industry and requires childproof packaging and clear labels on all marijuana products.

Related: 7 Facts About Starting a Cannabis Dispensary in 2019

Change in Governor’s Mansion

New Mexico provides yet another example of why voting matters and how state elections can impact residents much faster than national ones.

One reason the marijuana legalization bills are going forward is that there’s a Democrat in the governor’s mansion -- Michelle Lujan Grisham replaced Republican Governor Susana Martinez in January.

That’s the exact same pattern in New Jersey and Wisconsin. Democrat Governor Phil Murphy replaced Republican Governor Chris Christie. Christie strongly opposed legalization - although late last year he changed his tune. Murphy made legalization part of his election platform.

In Wisconsin, Democratic Governor Tony Evers took office in January and is now trying to get weed decriminalized and medical marijuana legal. He replaced staunch legalization opponent Scott Walker, also a Republican.

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