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State Briefs 02-07-14

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By Associated Press

Legislature mulling pot legalization

SANTA FE (AP) — New Mexico lawmakers are preparing to debate whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana.
The Senate Rules Committee is expected to consider a proposal Friday to allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana for those 21 years of age and older.
The question of legalizing marijuana would be decided by voters in the general election if lawmakers approve the proposed constitutional amendment.
However, the measure is likely to face difficulty in the Legislature and Republican Gov. Susana Martinez opposes marijuana legalization.
Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana. Pot stores opened in Colorado last month, and sales should start in Washington later this year.
If New Mexico voters end up approving the proposal, it would be left to legislators to decide how to regulate and tax marijuana.

Berry starting task force
ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry says a task force of experts will scrutinize circumstances surrounding the death of a 9-year-old boy.
Berry says the city needs to do more than just determine whether police officers adequately handled several situations involving the boy’s family.
The mother of Omaree Varela has been arrested in his death, which occurred after he and his family had come into contact with police under various circumstances.
Berry says the task force will try to find ways to help other children in what the mayor called “horrific circumstances.”
The mayor says the city will spend up to $50,000 on the task force. He says it will bring in experts on abuse, poverty, hunger, substance abuse and the legal system.

Bill would toughen poaching penalties
SANTA FE (AP) — Penalties for poaching big game in New Mexico would increase under a bill moving through the Legislature.
The House Health, Government and Indian Affairs committee voted unanimously Thursday to crack down on hunters who illegally kill bighorn sheep, ibex, oryx, Barbary sheep, elk, deer and pronghorn antelope. State officials say at least 100 such animals are killed in New Mexico every year for their heads, horns or antlers.
Poaching the animals would become a fourth-degree felony under the bill by Republican Rep. Alonzo Baldonado of Valencia.
A fourth degree felony carries a prison sentence of up to 18 months and a fine of up to $5,000.

NMSU to open store
LAS CRUCES (AP) — New Mexico State University is preparing to open an on-campus store selling products made by students at the school.
The Las Cruces Sun-News reports that plans call for opening the store in Gerald Thomas Hall in late summer.
It’ll initially feature gelato, sorbet and mixes produced by a food science class, but College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences administrators hope it will eventually offer other foods as well.
Those could include offer meat products made by animal science students, cheeses provided by food science students, and vegetables grown by horticulture students.