The proposed legislation “would narrow the definition of ‘safety-sensitive position’” under the state’s medical cannabis law, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican. That provision has precluded first responders and firefighters from entering the New Mexico medical marijuana program, which launched in 2007.
“As proposed, the definition would only include employees who are required to carry a firearm or operate a vehicle with a commercial driver’s license and ‘whose performance under the influence of drugs or alcohol would constitute an immediate or direct threat of injury or death to the person or another.’ State law currently defines a ‘safety-sensitive position’ ineligible for the medical cannabis program more broadly, barring firefighters from using medical cannabis without their employer’s permission,” the publication reported.
The legislation is being backed by local firefighters unions.
“We would use responsible policy to address everything just like about alcohol, and not only alcohol but other prescribed medications that we’re not allowed to use when we’re working on the job,” Miguel Tittmann, the president of International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) 244, told local news station KOAT.
“We would not be able to use medical marijuana so many hours prior to the shift if we were able to negotiate responsible policy.”
Christopher Johnson, the president of IAFF 2362 in Las Cruces, echoed those sentiments.
“I think a lot of our hope was that that would be able to be cleared up at the state level, which would kind of open up the door for the municipalities to start making that distinction and allow them to allow us to use that as well,” Johnson told KOAT.
The bill is currently being considered by a committee in the state House of Representatives.
Democrats hold majorities in both chambers of the New Mexico legislature.
The state’s Democratic governor, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has also proven to be pro-cannabis.
In 2021, she signed legislation that made adult-use marijuana legal in New Mexico, which she hailed as an economic coup for the state.
“The legalization of adult-use cannabis paves the way for the creation of a new economic driver in our state with the promise of creating thousands of good paying jobs for years to come,” Grisham said at the time. “We are going to increase consumer safety by creating a bona fide industry. We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed war on drugs. And we’re going to break new ground in an industry that may well transform New Mexico’s economic future for the better.”
“As we look to rebound from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, entrepreneurs will benefit from this great opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises, the state and local governments will benefit from the added revenue and, importantly, workers will benefit from the chance to land new types of jobs and build careers,” Grisham added.
Grisham said the measure was “a major, major step forward for our state.”
“Legalized adult-use cannabis is going to change the way we think about New Mexico for the better – our workforce, our economy, our future. We’re ready to break new ground. We’re ready to invest in ourselves and the limitless potential of New Mexicans. And we’re ready to get to work in making this industry a successful one,” the governor said.
Medical and recreational cannabis sales in New Mexico totaled more than $40 million in December.