Lawmakers kill marijuana legalization measure in New Mexico for 2016

A legislative push in New Mexico to get a ballot question about legalizing recreational marijuana in front of voters in November 2016 has died in the state senate. (Denver Post file)

Opponents of legalization in the state senate cited a fear of increased crime rates. A cluster of Democrats joined the full rank of Republicans to defeat the proposal

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SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico lawmakers have killed a proposal that would legalize and tax recreational marijuana.

Six Democrats joined Republicans to oppose the measure in a 24-17 Senate vote Sunday night. Critics say legalizing marijuana could lead to increased crime rates, but supporters argue that legal pot would be good for the state’s economy.

The proposed constitutional amendment would have been placed on the November ballot if approved. Proponents have vowed to try again.

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, an Albuquerque Democrat, sponsored the bill. He says New Mexicans will support the change if it’s put to a popular vote.

Republican Sen. Bill Sharer of Farmington opposed the bill, arguing that crime in Denver has increased since Colorado businesses began selling legal marijuana.

The Denver Post reported in December 2015 that there had been a slight increase in overall crime in Denver for the year.