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New Mexico Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

By Leo Bear-McGuinness

Published: Apr 01, 2021    Last Updated: Apr 12, 2021
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*Update: New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the legalization bill on Monday, April 12, effectively legalizing cannabis possession across the state.

Lawmakers in New Mexico have voted to legalize recreational cannabis.

During a legislative session on Wednesday, March 31, both a legalization bill and a cannabis criminal record expungement bill were passed by the state House and Senate.

Both bills now just have to be approved by New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is a keen advocate of drug reform.

“This is a significant victory for New Mexico,” she wrote in a statement. “Workers will benefit from the opportunity to build careers in this new economy. Entrepreneurs will benefit from the opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises. The state and local governments will benefit from the additional revenue. Consumers will benefit from the standardization and regulation that comes with a bona fide industry.”

A new New Mexico

The cannabis legalization bill, named HB 2, would allow adults aged 21 and older to purchase and possess up to 57 grams (two ounces) of cannabis, 16 grams of concentrates, and 800 milligrams of infused edibles.

Home cultivation of up to six mature plants would be allowed for personal use. Households would be limited to 12 plants in total.

Cannabis sales would include a 12 percent excise tax on top of the state’s 8 percent sales tax.

Sales themselves wouldn’t begin until April 1, 2022, or thereabouts. Final licensing rules would be required earlier, by January 1, 2022.

As per the bill, licensed cannabis retailers would have to reserve up to 10 percent of products for medical patients, to be used in the event of a shortage.

Local governments would not have the powers to ban cannabis businesses – a protocol seen in many cannabis-legal states – but jurisdictions could limit the number of retailers and their distance from schools.

“This is a good bill,” Governor Grisham wrote in a statement. “This special session was a success. And the work of making sure that this industry is a success, that New Mexicans are able to reap the full economic and social benefit of legalized adult-use cannabis, that workplace and roadway safety are assured to the greatest degree possible – that work will go on.”

The expungement bill, known as SB 2, would automatically erase the past criminal records of those arrested or convicted of activity that would no longer be outlawed under legalization.

“Those who have been harmed by this country’s failed war on drugs, disproportionately communities of color, will benefit from our state’s smart, fair and equitable new approach to past low-level convictions,” Grisham continued in her statement.

New Mexico legalized medical cannabis in 2007 for seriously ill patients. The list of qualifying conditions was later expanded.

Governor Grisham also decriminalized cannabis possession in 2019 after signing the bill SB 323. From July 1, 2019, first-time possession of up to 14 grams (half an ounce) has been punishable by a $50 fine.


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