Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.) said this week that his state shouldn’t legalize recreational marijuana because it would hinder the economic fortunes of poor people. Wealthier states can better afford to handle the substance, he added.
“I do not see how in combating poverty you can put one more obstacle in front of people who are struggling to get out of poverty,” Pearce said Thursday, “so I don’t see where I would support recreational marijuana.”
A wealthier state, the congressman added, could more easily absorb the allegedly deleterious effects of legal marijuana.
“People [point to] other states and say, ‘Well, Colorado is doing it just fine,’” Pearce continued. “Colorado has a much deeper economic base to rely on. Colorado has much deeper pockets to rely on.”
As for New Mexico, he said, “We’re at the bottom of everything ― and to say that we want to make one more [obstacle] for people who are just trying to get themselves on their feet and get back in the workforce and work their way out, I just don’t see how it fits. I don’t see how it fits that we’re going to deal with addiction and yet we’re going to people, ‘This one is OK.’”
A Pearce spokesperson said that the congressman was not making a distinction between the use of marijuana by rich and poor individuals and that to claim he did would be a “deliberate distortion.”
“Colorado has deeper pockets to pay for more drug addiction, more jails and more law enforcement,” said Keeley Christiensen, Pearce’s Washington press secretary. “They have their right to spend their tax money mitigating the destructive effects of drug addiction how they choose. The congressman believes New Mexico would be wiser spending its money on creating jobs, hope and opportunity for everyone.”