New Mexico

A look at Colorado as New Mexico weighs whether to legalize marijuana

A look at Colorado as New Mexico...

TRINIDAD, COLORADO - For a town with a population of nearly 11-thousand, Trinidad, Colorado is booming with marijuana dispensaries: eleven.

Shop owners tell ABC-7 a lot of the business is coming from south of the state line. "We see people coming from New Mexico, Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma," a shop owner said. "It's a lot of pot shops for a small town, but it is beneficial because a lot of locals get jobs now. There are more people working and more money being spent by locals in local businesses."

Statistics from a recent study show recreational weed in Colorado also created problems. There was a 48 percent increase in marijuana-related traffic deaths between 2013- 2015, following the legalization. The study also states hospital visits involving marijuana increased by 32 percent between 2013 and 2014.

What's legal in this Trinidad shop isn't just a few miles away in New Mexico. It's a long shot, but The Land of Enchantment could be the next state to legalize marijuana, pending the outcome of the legislative session.

"The concept behind the idea is pretty simple," House Democrat Bill McCamley said, "We want to take $400 billion every year out of the hands of drug dealers and put it in the hands of legitimate business folks who then can use that to create jobs."

McCamley said the initial estimate is legalization would create 11,000 jobs during the first year in The Land of the Enchantment. "On top of that, we could probably bring in 60 to 70 million dollars in tax revenue, which would be used for schools, behavioral health, and economic development purposes."

Although optimistic, McCamley says this session has proven to be tough, since Governor Susana Martinez has repeatedly said that she would not support the legalization of the drug in her state.

Dona Ana County Sheriff Kiki Vigil recently told ABC-7 he is against proposals to legalize marijuana, saying more research is needed.

Law enforcement agencies, Vigil said, fear legalizing marijuana could lead to more impaired drivers.

"I'm a member of the Southwestern Board of Association of Sheriff's, which is all the way from South Texas to San Diego, and they're totally against this," Vigil said. "We're going to have to deal with drivers high on marijuana. How are we going to deal with that - just a citation? Those are things we need to look into."

ABC-7's New Mexico Mobile Newsroom is headed to Trinidad, Colorado to see, first-hand, both the negative and positive impacts legalizing marijuana has had on that community.

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