New Mexico legalizes recreational cannabis during special legislative session

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

During a special legislative session that took place on Wednesday, March 31, a cannabis legalization measure – titled, “The Cannabis Regulation Act” or “House Bill 2” – passed in New Mexico. The state is now gearing up to develop the necessary regulations and licensing for a recreational cannabis industry to thrive.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has long-been pushing for adult-use cannabis legalization in New Mexico as part of her term. Following the bill’s approval – which emerges following years of stiff debate – Grisham announced that she aims to sign the bill into law imminently. Once this happens, New Mexico will become the 18th U.S. state to legalize cannabis for recreational purposes.

Separately, the New Mexico legislature passed a different measure that would reverse cannabis possession criminalization and consumption through the expungement of criminal records, as well as by assessing cases pertaining to individuals who have been convicted of a cannabis-related offense.

New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis measure: What does The Cannabis Regulation Act entail? 

Lawmakers have confirmed that New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis measure will be effectuated 90 days before the session concludes at the end of June. The Cannabis Regulation Act will legalize the plant’s possession and consumption for adults aged 21 and above. However, the rules state that consumers won’t be able to buy and use cannabis just anywhere.

Individuals who wish to consume or possess cannabis in New Mexico will need to hide their stash out of the public eye. Possessing more than two ounces of the plant in its raw form, 16 grams of extract or 800 milligrams of edibles in public spaces will be prohibited. Those people who violate the law will face a felony or misdemeanor, such as a $50 ticket for smoking outside of a licensed “cannabis consumption area.”

Home-growing will be permitted as part of New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis measure. A maximum of six mature cannabis plants and six immature plants can be grown inside each individual household — no more than 12 in total.

Things to consider regarding recreational cannabis legalization in New Mexico

New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis measure calls for licensed and regulated retailers to begin selling recreational products on a commercial basis no later than April 1, 2022. 

Meanwhile, the recently-approved law establishes a new subsection under the state Regulation and Licensing Department; this section of the law stipulates that the division must draft cannabis sale, production and marketing rules no later than next January.

Within the first three years of New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis measure being enacted, plant producers will be restricted to specific stock limits. This, lawmakers say, will offer small-scale producers the opportunity to get involved in the market amid existing medical cannabis producers and major corporations.

A fiscal impact report that was centered around New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis measure highlighted a prediction from the state Economic Development Department that pins the number of new jobs at 1,593. Nonetheless, as a federally prohibited substance, employees will still have the right to prevent workers from possessing and using cannabis in the workplace.