By MARSHA THOLE
Thank you, Sen. Bill Tallman, D-Albuquerque, for advising caution on what some think is the inevitable legalization of recreational marijuana in New Mexico. The vendors and bean counters with their outlandish cash-flow forecasts are already licking their chops to encourage legislators to press on and ring up $800 million in sales, much of this coming from Texans seeking a closer “Rocky Mountain High,” no disrespect to John Denver.
But conspicuously and consistently absent is … the downside of legalization.
Where is the analysis of the impact that legalization would have, particularly medical, psychological, family disruption, accidents, crime connections, etc., not to mention our tax dollars going to pay for increased homelessness, debt and bankruptcy, domestic violence, crimes and homicides, and drivers having to now dodge the pot users on the roadways? One poll said 60% of pot users admitted to driving high. Colorado notes that since marijuana was legalized there in 2014, crime has increased every single year. In fact, crime has gone up in … cities where recreational marijuana has been legalized. Has everyone forgotten that we already have a terrible drug problem, and that we have been (in the top 10) on the FBI’s list of cities with the most crime?
After years of attempting to deal with this drug-abuse epidemic, how far have we progressed? Not one bit. Our legislators just continue to go backward with no relief in sight. Yet New Mexicans continue to reelect legislators who have not done their jobs in protecting N.M. residents.
In the Journal’s three-part series on marijuana, the comments from local leaders in politics, law enforcement and public health did not include one recommendation on addressing the elephant in the room that portends an impending catastrophe and one the governor and many of our politicians tend to ignore, i.e., the downside of legalization. We are always at the top of the list of self-inflicted traumas.
The governor’s special committee to ensure legalization – aka Cannabis Working Group – led by Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, extolled the potential job creation boom that would result from legalization. I opine that for every new job created that somewhere down the road another addict will go on the dole with taxpayers footing the cost. Why does a state with a terrible history of drunken driving even consider legalizing recreational marijuana? Given our state is now the worst in the country to raise kids, and medical studies have shown that marijuana use by kids can mess with their brains, why would legislators make marijuana easier to access by kids, which we all know will happen with legalization? That is downright crazy.
How will this play out in the Roundhouse this 2021 session? If legislators do not study the downside of legalization, the result will be yet another severe, self-inflicted wound on the taxpayers. Will we ever learn? To state Rep. Javier Martinez, I say, “No, we are not all in favor of legalizing pot and watching our taxes go up yet again for bad decisions made by you and others all in the name of a perceived cash cow.” Show me one taxpayer who is ready for their taxes to increase to pay for the downside of legalization. Your decision to vote for legalization will only cause a terrible palpable drain on good folks.
The problem lies with the management at the Roundhouse. This state has sufficient monies, if only the people in charge would manage it properly. Alas, we don’t have a revenue problem, this state has an uncontrolled spending problem. We are (high on the list) for the most welfare recipients per capita. This state is on a permanent dependency hangover, made worse if marijuana is legalized, with consequences that create dependents and dependence, which diminishes everyone. And those who are benefitting at the expense of others just want more. Let’s find better ways to solve our problems rather than create new ones.