New Mexico wants to legalize recreational marijuana. The state opened their minds and hearts to medical cannabis back in 2007 and recently they approved a decriminalization bill that would decrease penalties for possession.

Then, on March 8th, a more comprehensive recreational legalization bill was passed by the House. A strange bill that would have put legal cannabis sales in state-run stores and would have required users to carry their receipts of purchase with them. This would have been the first time that government-operated businesses would have been dealing with cannabis sales — which is still considered a schedule I substance by the federal government.

The decriminalization bill passed. The Government-run pot-shops bill did not.

And thank the marijuana gods, too. The business of running businesses like these should be left to the private sector. If there’s anything the federal government has proven itself proficient at, it’s inefficiency, a lack of creativity and the cultivation of poor employee morale. Just think about the DMV for chrissake…

Could you imagine a state-owned and operated dispensary? Babies crying, fluorescent lights buzzing, flickering, uncomfortable chairs and life-long wait lines, fed-up bud-tenders and a poor selection of pot, full of seeds and stems and capped at 10-percent THC content.

It would not be a nice place to buy your weed. And, in fact, it might only encourage more black-market sales. Why deal with burned out government employees when you can buy from your homie? Why fund the State, when you can fund your local cannabis dealer? Why let the government get its grimy hands on cannabis at all?

Besides, the state of New Mexico already has problems issuing medical cannabis licenses on time. What makes them think they’re ready to open up their own chain of dispensaries?

Not surprisingly, this bill was the brainchild of a trio of GOP state senators, who broke from their party’s conventional attitude on cannabis, to embrace recreational legalization. But only if dispensaries were government-owned and operated businesses.

That’s not in the cards, though. Senator John Sapien (D) explained that private companies and medical marijuana providers were concerned over the language of the bill, and it died in the chamber’s Finance Committee.

While that bill withered, the other bill, concerning cannabis decriminalization, flew through the Senate and now sits on Governor Michelle Grisham’s desk, awaiting a signature.

Which, it’s likely to get.

Ending the criminalization of marijuana in New Mexico is a strong step toward taxing and regulating marijuana for adults and represents bipartisan support on an issue that was untouchable a few years ago,” Emily Kaltenbach, the New Mexico director for theDrug Policy Alliance, said in a press release. “It gives us confidence that New Mexico will legalize marijuana in the coming years, finally ending the havoc criminalization has wreaked on black, brown and Native communities.”

And it’s about damn time. New Mexico sits on the border of both Mexico and Colorado — by keeping cannabis criminalized they are essentially supporting the black market in their state and creating more problems than they’re solving. By decriminalizing pot, New Mexico stands to put a dent in their own crime rates, as well as in the cartel’s income.  

It’s a win-win situation. That is, as long as they don’t try and hand the business of recreational marijuana to the State.