Our future shouldn’t include legal cannabis

Editor:

Let us hope that our lawmakers do not sell out our beloved state for anticipated revenue from cannabis. People who may support legalization are likely not aware of several provisions in this legislation, nor the consequences thereof.

It includes so much more (more than 150 pages) than simple legalization. Some things, such as quality of life, peace of mind in raising children, and the ability of “native” New Mexicans to continue to live in their long-established homelands are far more important than several bucks in our coffers.

Please look at the negative consequences of legalization in Oregon, Washington and Colorado. Thousands have been priced out of their homes, especially renters, due to the doubled and tripled influx of persons to these states yearly since legalization (56,000 per year in Oregon; 91,000 in Washington, and 60,000 in Colorado as of 2016. Source: “State Migration Rates: Net Totals 2011-2016 www.governing.com/gov-data/census/state-migration-rates-annual-net-migration-by-state.htmlnet in-migration in Colorado, Washington, Oregon 2011-2015.)

These increases have caused severe housing shortages there, and have contributed to homelessness here, too, as these displaced people search for housing and services in our state. Maybe you have met some of them, or seen their posts on GoFundMe, as I have. Our own Santa Feans and other New Mexicans have already endured this same travesty.

Can our most vulnerable New Mexicans withstand doubled and tripled rental prices? Where will they go? And what will happen to our precious cultural diversity?

HB 160 and SB 115 include provisions for taxpayers to subsidize both producers and users of cannabis, but we don’t subsidize those who can’t afford their diabetes and asthma medications. May we also be required to subsidize pharmaceutical corporations as producers?

These bills include provisions that appear to “excuse” child endangerment while under the influence! And another that will allow criminal records relating to cannabis arrests to be expunged, while those for DWI, understandably, are not. Further, getting as high as you like will be legal, but growing a plant for your own use will still be a crime. How will law enforcement people deal with that? Are these good ideas?

By the way, have you tried to camp, fish, hike, etc. in Oregon, Colorado or Washington? I have. There are so many people “recreating” that most campsites are completely full and access to public land is severely compromised. How will we deal with the increased sanitation, trash, traffic, etc. problems? And imagine what your favorite fishing spot will look like with three or four times as many people there …

Other negative impacts of this legislation include our children’s wildly increased access to this gateway and yes, addictive, drug (seedrugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana). It is way too easy for our children to obtain right now.

How much will impaired drivers increase our already out of control DWI rates and public safety issues? How will we handle the detrimental educational impacts that will occur in the schools? Several studies (cited in the website above) conclude that marijuana use by children under 18 causes learning impairments and so many other problems. (One Colorado educator testified that entire classrooms of her community college students became “zoned out” and non-participatory after legalization.)

This is not the time to enact such laws, especially when their unforeseen and unconsidered consequences may be irreversible. I implore our representatives to carefully consider what passing this legislation will mean for our residents, our children and the future of New Mexico.

We love our Land of Enchantment, and do not want to move to Arkansas! Thank you for the opportunity to present these facts.

Wyn Sanchez

Los Lunas

(Editor’s Note: The New Mexico Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-4 on Wednesday, Feb. 12, to table a bill legalizing recreational marijuana.)

Centers should help our homeless population

Editor:

I would like to share my opinion and support on the Senate Memorial 15 (Juvenile detention cost sharing, transportation of detained youth, improved court processes and alternatives to juvenile detention) that are homeless may be able to utilize this surplus to have a soft place to rest.

Perhaps the state will make it available so that these closing facilities may be refurbished and funding may be found so that we may be able to house those homeless not only from Valencia County but all over the state. Many homeless commute daily from Albuquerque to Belen and Los Lunas because many say that it’s safer in Valencia County due to the shelters being full and their fear of sleeping on the streets.

On top of this, the memorial supports alternatives of increasing community resources for the youth potentially being able to prevent them from ending up in the system. I agree that we should come together as a community to make a community center for a place for youth to go.

I’ve sat on enough boards to see that they talk about caring about our youth, but at the end of the day, collaboration turns into competition; it’s a matter of whose company/organizations’ name is on the top. It’s not about us, it should strictly be about our youth, they are our future representatives.

Stephen Chavez

Los Lunas

Taking away our guns

Editor:

The Red Flag Law is not about protecting society; it’s about taking your guns

New Mexico has an emergency mental health statute which states, if a peace officer has reasonable grounds to believe that a person presents a likelihood of serious harm to himself or others, and that immediate detention is necessary to prevent such harm, a peace officer may detain and transport a person for emergency mental health evaluation and care without a court order.

So why are some in the Legislature pushing so hard for adoption of the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act, commonly known as the Red Flag Law, when we already have a law that can be used to take dangerous people off the street? Because it has never been about protecting someone from seriously harming himself or others; it has always been about taking your guns.

In a nutshell, the Red Flag Law states, if a peace officer has probable cause to believe that a person presents a likelihood of serious harm to himself or others, the officer may request a district judge issue an order to confiscate the person’s guns, but the person suspected is free to go.

This law is not about protecting people; it’s about taking guns. Its sole purpose is to remove guns from law abiding citizens by allowing anyone who owns a gun to be accused of being a danger to themselves or others. Bottom line, the government wants your guns and you might not get them back.

Clara Cates

Los Lunas

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The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.