WED: Election Revives Recreational Pot Initiatives In New Mexico, + More

Nov 11, 2020

Election Revives Recreational Pot Initiatives In New Mexico - By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

State legislators are rekindling efforts to open New Mexico to recreational marijuana production and sales, with an emphasis on economic opportunity amidst the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic.

State Rep. Javier Martinez told a panel of lawmakers Tuesday that he will again introduce legislation to regulate and tax recreational marijuana, hewing closely to a proposal that won House approval earlier this year and died in the Senate without a floor vote.

Elections this year ousted several conservative-leaning Democratic Senators who opposed past legalization efforts.

Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham last week reiterated her support for recreational marijuana as an opportunity to expand and diversify the economy.

Across the country, public support for marijuana reforms was on prominent display in the Nov. 3 election as four states — New Jersey, South Dakota, Montana and neighboring Arizona — approved ballot measures to open up recreational cannabis markets. Mississippi approved the creation of a medical marijuana program.

New Mexico doesn't initiate legislation by ballot measures, though constitutional amendments are approved by referendum.

Martinez said his new bill will aim to safeguard the state's 13-year-old medical marijuana program from disruptions, levying taxes of up to 20% on sales and create business opportunities for minority and low-income communities adversely affected by the drug war and criminalization of marijuana. The bill has not yet been published.

Santa Fe Schools End In-Person Learning Experiment - By Cedar Attanasio Associated Press / Report For America, Santa Fe New Mexican

After three weeks of trying to make in-person learning work, Santa Fe Public Schools are calling it quits.

With the city posting its own record numbers of COVID-19 cases and hospital beds filling up, Superintendent Veronica García says it is time to pump the brakes.

Around 200 elementary school students had been allowed in-person learning thanks to 58 school teachers and other staff who volunteered to teach. Starting Nov. 20, the district will return to remote-only classes.

The announcement comes as the state sets records for COVID-19 cases amid dwindling space in hospitals, school districts are suing the state over the coronavirus health order, and students are failing classes at much higher rates.

Half of Santa Fe's public high and middle school students had at least one failing grade, with rates at more than 60% for freshmen and sophomores and close to 40% among middle-school students.

Around the state, the percentage is as high as 80%.

The problem also affects younger kids. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports the number of Santa Fe Public School students in grades 3 through 12 failing at least one class has increased 15% over last year, according to the.

New Mexico College Athletes Issue Plea To Practice, PlayAssociated Press

Athletes from five New Mexico universities are asking Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for more flexibility that would allow them to hold full practices and play like their counterparts at most colleges in other states.

They issued their formal plea to the Democratic governor in a letter sent Monday, as the state marked another daily high for confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The letter says positivity rates in the community are not indicative of the caseloads being seen among athletes. They say that shows they've been adhering to safe protocols.

The governor is expected this week to impose tougher public health mandates.

The state only allows college sports teams to hold practice, compete or travel if the universities are in counties with a 14-day average daily case count of less than eight per 100,000 and a test positivity rate under 5%.

None meet the requirements right now and state officials said Tuesday that while athletes want to get back to the field, court or track, public health needs to be the top priority.

State health officials on Tuesday reported an additional 1,266 COVID-19 cases, bringing the statewide total to nearly 57,550 since the pandemic began.

Another 14 deaths also were reported, bringing that tally to 1,144. More than 420 people remained hospitalized.

Navajo Nation Reports 79 New COVID-19 Cases And 1 More Death - Associated Press

Navajo Nation health officials on Tuesday reported 79 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and one additional death. 

The latest figures bring the total number of known cases to 12,720 with 595 known deaths. Tribal health officials say 133,733 people have been tested for COVID-19 since the pandemic started and 7,802 have recovered. 

The Navajo Nation Department of Health previously issued a health advisory warning to residents about the uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus that has affected 29 communities throughout the reservation.

A daily curfew from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. also remains in effect on the Navajo Nation.

Police Say Man Livestreamed Part Of Fatal New Mexico Shooting Associated Press

Authorities in New Mexico have arrested a man after police say he fatally shot two people and streamed part of the assault on Facebook.

New Mexico State Police said in a statement Monday that 23-year-old Alejandro Alirez of Las Vegas was arrested Sunday on multiple charges including first-degree murder.

Police said his 33-year-old girlfriend Cristal Cervantes and her 89-year-old grandfather Victor Cervantes died at the scene. San Miguel County Sheriff's deputies originally responded after being called by Alirez's mother.

Alirez allegedly told officers he believed he was being molested in his sleep. Online court records didn't list an attorney for Alirez who could comment on his behalf.