Local and national entities share ‘joint’ message on cannabis safety; New Mexico GOP maintains ‘blunt’ rejection

Local

A man smokes a joint during a demonstration for the decriminalization of cannabis. (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — On 4/20, local and state government entities across the Borderland are promoting safe and legal cannabis use while also offering a range of education and outreach to prevent people from getting into legal trouble because of cannabis use or possession.

“Sometimes, that lack of education is what gets them into trouble,” El Paso County District Attorney Yvonne Rosales told KTSM 9 News.

She is trying to curtail new cannabis-related cases by providing robust outreach and education to the community.

“Young students who might think that having a gummy bear that contains THC might be something that they can have and not get into trouble with,” said Rosales. “We want to go and educate them and hopefully prevent them from getting into the system because we certainly don’t want to tarnish their abilities to be productive citizens in the future.”

Across New Mexico, the state’s regulation and licensing department is creating a cannabis regulatory committee to develop policies and best practices related to the cannabis industry that promotes economic and cultural diversity, while also ensuring the protection of public health and safety.

For example, the New Mexico State Regulation and Licensing Department (RLD) says one challenge is to make sure that regulations for legal cannabis are not too onerous that consumers turn to black market dealers while also being strict enough to prevent underage purchase and consumption.

“If you’re not a medical patient, then we want to make sure that cannabis is not acceptable to youth,” said New Mexico RDL’s Superintendent Linda Trujillo.

Despite efforts to ensure the safe use and regulations of cannabis across states like New Mexico, legalized cannabis remains highly politicized.

New Mexico GOP Chairman Steve Pearce gave a blunt rejection to KTSM in a statement: 

“It’s a shame the Governor used her influence to hold a session for the specific purpose of passing a bill that’s been on her personal agenda. Recreational marijuana is hardly a pressing issue for a state that’s become an embarrassment in education, economic growth and opportunity. The Special Session was a waste of time and waste of more than $100,000 at the taxpayer’s expense. In addition, recreational marijuana will lead to even more crime, underage use and impaired driving. The Governor has a pipe dream of saving the state’s finances by hoping to rake in hundreds of millions of dollars from marijuana revenues, but it’s unclear just how much money will end up in state coffers.”

In El Paso, Rosales wants to make sure that Texas residents in El Paso don’t face legal trouble by bringing cannabis products across state lines. 

“The unique situation that we’re in is people don’t understand it’s still illegal to possess it in Texas. And while you can possess it in New Mexico, go ahead and just stay In New Mexico and don’t’ come back into Texas having that on you because potentially you can be arrested,” she said. “Why have these young adults enter into the system as long as we can educate them and try to tell them ‘don’t bring it into Texas’?”

NORML, a non-profit public interest advocacy group, is encouraging legally compliant and pandemic-safe celebrations on 4/20. The organization is hosting a livestream event Tuesday night to discuss legislative goals in Texas regarding cannabis policies.

“We have a lot of work to do to make sure that patients have safe access, that adults are not penalized for consumption of cannabis and, ultimately, that we can have a great economic impact from regulating this plant,” said Jax Finkel, executive director of NORML’s Texas chapter. 

In honor of 4/20, NORML curated a playlist you can listen to here.

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