The research program stalled and it wasn’t until 2008 that New Mexico rolled out its medical cannabis program.
“Why are we shooting for being the last to legalize cannabis for adult use?” Apodaca said in a statement.
The push for legalization comes as New Mexico’s medical marijuana program has grown exponentially in just the last two years. Producers licensed under the program reported record sales of more than $86 million in 2017 and the number of patients enrolled now tops 50,000.
“We know the medical benefits of it. And we also know the opportunities of legalization for adult use,” Apodaca said, suggesting expansion of the long-standing medical marijuana program along with legalization could result in an estimated $200 million of additional tax revenues for the state.
The state’s largest producer, Ultra Health, announced that it has acquired farmland in southern New Mexico and has plans for what the industry says could be the largest cultivation facility in North America.
The property spans nearly one-third of a square mile (81 hectares) in Otero County. It will include 20 acres (8 hectares) of indoor cultivation, 80 acres (32 hectares) of outdoor cannabis fields and another 100 acres (40 hectares) of outdoor hemp fields.
Ultra Health president and CEO Duke Rodriguez said the company is preparing for a future in which New Mexico stands to benefit from expanded medical use and possibly recreational use.
Apodaca’s plan calls for lifting the current limits on the number of plants producers can grow and reducing costly licensing fees.
Other Democratic candidates have been more cautious.
U.S. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she would work with state lawmakers to move toward legalizing marijuana to ensure there are adequate health, safety and enforcement measures in place.
She called for a “thorough analysis” of recreational pot programs in other