The movement to reform the country’s marijuana laws already was well underway when Bob Randall smoked legally supplied government-rolled joints in a Capitol hallway before testifying at a legislative hearing early in 1977. I stood nearby that day in Santa Fe trying to breathe deeply, but today I’m reaching for the keyboard instead of another brownie. Yeah, marijuana use shouldn’t be a crime, but peddling pot legalization the same way we did the New Mexico Lottery as a source of tax revenue for good purposes just promises another cash stream ripe for perversion. (Funny how university tuition outpaces lottery sales to the point the pyramid scheme verges on collapse, no?)
As pundit-blogger Joe Monahan reported yesterday, a newly released poll shows an even split among New Mexicans for and against legalizing marijuana. A vast majority in the poll commissioned by state Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (left), D-Albuquerque, did say they’d like to see the issue on the November ballot. Ortiz y Pino is trying to make that happen by sponsoring a constitutional amendment (Senate Joint Resolution 10) during the current 30-day session of the Legislature. (OK, already. Stop snickering about it being a joint resolution.)
Stay tuned for that outcome. We’ll see if Ortiz’s poll offers enough cover for his colleagues who fear being hammered as pro-drug abuse. Governor and ex-DA Susana Martinez doesn’t like the idea, of course, but she has no say since amendments go straight from the Legislature to the voters. She’s one of those tough-on-crime Republicans although her operatives might be more concerned about a marijuana ballot measure bringing out lots of young voters who wouldn’t lean the GOP’s way in the governor’s race. You can also envision her political machine cranking up to smear any legislator who voted ‘yes’ with lurid advertising akin to “Reefer Madness.”
So, what’s the middle ground between the current failed model of expensive Prohibition and junking up the state Constitution so big tobacco can peddle Winston Wowie or Benson & Hedges & Cheech & Chong? It’s a concept popular at the beginning of the marijuana-reform movement in the 1970s and hardly mentioned these days: personal cultivation and nonprofit transfer. In other words, let adults grow their own, minimize government involvement, keep it small and local and cover the fallout with existing law.
That’s sort of what we had here in the pre-Prohibition days when pot grew wild along the acequias and curanderas prescribed it to women for dolores menstruales. Won’t happen, of course, given the politics of enchanted New Mexico and the prospect of putting medical marijuana docs and shops out of business, derailing part of the pusher/police/prisons gravy train and denying polítcos another sweet pot of revenue and campaign contributions.