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New Mexico Recreational Pot Legalization Passes 1st Test

A Democrat-backed bill to legalize recreational marijuana businesses in all towns and counties across New Mexico passed its first test late Tuesday amid heighten interested from businesses and health care advocates.

The Senate Public Affairs Committee voted 4-3 along party lines to move along the measure that would subsidize medical marijuana and automatically expunge many past pot convictions. The committee had to convene on the Senate floor to accommodate crowds around a proposal that would subsidize medical marijuana for low-income patients and expunge many past pot convictions.

An initial draft of the bill from Democratic Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino of Albuquerque would also override local governments that don’t welcome the industry. The condition is an attempt to stamp out black markets.

“This is the future,” Ben Lewinger, executive director of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, told lawmakers. “New Mexico doesn’t have time to waste precious years.”

But the future of the bill remain uncertain as it moves to the Senate Judiciary Committee, where chairman Sen. Joseph Cervantes, a moderate Democrat from Las Cruces, has said he had concerns about legalizing recreational marijuana in the state. [Read more at US News & World Report]

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