The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Officials discuss marijuana response

 

September 8, 2019



CLOVIS — Recreational marijuana will be a reality in New Mexico, Clovis Mayor David Lansford said. The only variable for Clovis is how the city chooses to deal with it.

Lansford addressed the Clovis city commission at the conclusion of its Thursday meeting with news that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has placed recreational marijuana legalization on the agenda for the 2020 legislative session. The 30-day session can only deal with budgetary issues unless the governor’s office makes a special exception.

With Democrats holding solid majorities in both houses, Lansford said he has no doubt Lujan Grisham will receive legislation that she wouldn’t have reservations signing.

“It’s a tidal wave that’s going to go,” Lansford said. “I don’t see it not happening. What we’ll have to decide is if we allow it here, and if we do, how we’re going to regulate it.”

He said as the local governmental body for the city, it will have three options:

• Opt-in: The city allows recreational marijuana in its incorporated areas and decides on zoning regulations for businesses that do offer it.

• Opt-out: Marijuana will continue to be illegal in the incorporated areas of Clovis.

• Hybrid opt-in: The city takes no official position on marijuana, and all regulations regarding it are left in the state’s hands.

At Lansford’s request, Clovis Police Chief Doug Ford addressed the commission on how such changes would affect law enforcement. Ford said this legislation has been anticipated and he’s talked to police chiefs from Colorado. Those discussions have covered successes, missteps and unintended consequences of legalization.

A glaring issue Ford sees is figuring out if drivers are under the influence of marijuana. The drug’s presence is currently verified via blood draws, but two of his officers have taken drug recognition expert training. As far as what amount of drug in the system would be acceptable, Ford said that’s one thing the state would have to determine at the time of implementation as, “there’s no national standard.”

Commissioner Rube Render said if you were to “light up a doobie” the drug could stay in your system for weeks. He asked Ford how that would factor into determining intoxication. Ford responded that while marijuana is detectable in a body longer than other substances, it’s still about determining what level of a drug equals intoxication and what level isn’t a concern.

Lansford said in discussions with various state officials, a city that allows recreational marijuana would see a spike in gross receipts taxes of around $3 per citizen per year based on the anticipated 9% tax. For Clovis, that would be a little below $150,000.

“That’s not much money in exchange for the new activity,” Lansford said.

 
 

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