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Medical cannabis experts caution against New Mexico’s push to legalize recreationally

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LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - As New Mexico's governor renews her push for legalizing cannabis recreationally, medical cannabis patients and law enforcement experts worry the state does not have the infrastructure to handle the demand.

"New Mexico as it stands just does not have the logistics for recreation," said Chad Lozano, secretary of the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Patients Advocate Alliance.

From 2008 to 2011, Lozano told ABC-7 he served in the U.S. Army's 25th infantry division. After leaving Iraq, he said he suffered from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

"Once I started using cannabis, I was able to sleep," Lozano said. "Anger went down, paranoia. Everything was a lot better."

Medical users worry that if New Mexico legalizes cannabis recreationally, there will not be enough supply to meet the demand of the entire state.

"We don't have enough cannabis for everybody," Lozano said. "We don't have enough producers. The price to become producers is ridiculous."

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham told KOAT last week that legalizing cannabis recreationally is one of her top priorities this upcoming legislative session.

"It is a complicated piece of legislation," Governor Lujan Grisham said. "I think it's going to be a tough piece of legislation to pass, but I committed to putting it on my call."

In last year's session, a bill to legalize cannabis statewide stalled in New Mexico's Senate. Governor Lujan Grisham created a task force this year of experts to consider the ramifications of legalization.

"You're talking about a level of infrastructure, a level of governance that is well beyond New Mexico, where we're at right now," said Doña Ana County Sheriff Kim Stewart, who served on the task force.

Stewart told ABC-7 that New Mexico does not have the population, resources or infrastructure of states like California.

"This is a really big industry," Sheriff Stewart said. "There's no halfway. Once we're in it, we're in it."

However, Governor Lujan Grisham said she wants to sign a legalization bill in 2020.

"We would tax it right, we would regulate it right, we would be cautious about the mistakes that other states have made," Governor Lujan Grisham said.

"We have the opportunity to do this different and do it right," Lozano said. "The way that we're going is just down the wrong path."

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Kate Bieri

Kate Bieri is a former ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom reporter and weekend evening newscast anchor.


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