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Legalizing marijuana: New Mexico legislator says first poll suggests voters want a chance to vote on issue

By: Joshua Zuber
SANTA FE, N.M. --State Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, who is sponsoring the bill to legalize marijuana in the state, told KFOX 14 Monday he's got the polling data to prove people want to vote on this issue and will likely vote yes.

Most people in the state want it to be on the ballot and a chance to say (how they feel), Ortiz y Pino said.

That's according to polling data released by his office.

It shows 83 percent of New Mexicans polled this month say they want the chance to vote on legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana.

Sixty-one percent of those polled say they would vote in favor of the amendment if the money collected by taxes went toward education, lower tuition rates for New Mexico college students and help funding Medicaid.

The margin of error is /- 4.7 percert.

Ortiz y Pino says keeping pot illegal isn't worth law enforcement resources.

We think to a majority of people think the war on drugs are causing more harm than good, Ortiz y Pino said.

One critic of the proposal is state Rep. Jeff Steinborn.

Last week he told KFOX14 he's worried about increasing access of marijuana to kids.

It's illegal now for kids, and they still get ahold of it, Ortitz y Pino rebutted.

He said the proposal would make pot legal for people 21 years old or older.

Another legislator, Dr. Terry Mcmillian, said it's not possible to know just to what extent someone is intoxicated by pot, unlike alcohol.

All we are proposing is to let the voters decide. If it gets to the voters and if a majority of them say yes in November, then we still have to come up next year to the Legislature and draw up all the enabling legislation, one of which would be a bill that would define what level of marijuana in the system would make you impaired, Ortiz y Pino said.

Ortiz y Pino said the plant hemp will also be added to this bill, if it gets to its first committee.

The senator says that if the ballot measure were to pass, it is unclear if and when recreational marijuana would become officially legal, since that enabling legislation would have to be passed.



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