Laws on Cannabis and CBD in New Mexico
New Mexico is home to laws that decriminalize cannabis and allow consumption by medical patients but, as of writing, it continues to be illegal for recreational use. Interestingly, this same state was the first to enact a medical cannabis law. In 1978, medical use was allowed solely through a research program that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration. With cannabis supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, between 1978 and 1986, approximately 250 cancer patients received either cannabis or THC through the Lynn Pierson Therapeutic Research Program (named in honor of a patient who found relief when using cannabis and implored state lawmakers to allow its use).
Will Recreational Cannabis Become Legal?
In the Land of Enchantment, the future legalization of recreational cannabis, however, has dimmed. Currently, state legislators are at a stalemate on updated New Mexico cannabis laws; most recent sticking points lean towards opposing perspectives on taxation and licensing despite Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham prioritizing legalization of recreational cannabis in 2021 as a way to instill new sources of employment to combat high rates of poverty.
House Bill 12 and Senate Bill 288 are Cannabis Regulation Acts, last visited on March 10, 2021. Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth (D) voted in favor of both bills, which are the result of other cannabis-related bills that have merged. Wirth acknowledged the need for lawmakers to continue ironing out the proposals’ remaining differences. “I’m moving them both forward because I think the discussion continues,” he said. “I don’t want there to be a sense that we’re picking a bill, one over the other.”
SB 288 removes previous language which would allow municipalities to opt-out of allowing licensed cannabis businesses to operate locally. This provision is mirrored in HB 12, which would also forbid local governments from banning marijuana businesses within their boundaries. SB 288 also features language to enable Native American tribes within New Mexico to participate in the new industry and allows the state to participate in cannabis commerce with other legal states if and when federal prohibition is lifted. It is no longer proposed that businesses be located at least one mile apart; this decision will be up to local municipalities per their own zoning rules. Additionally, SB 288 now includes increasing the plant limit for small, so-called microbusinesses to 200 plants, up from 99 plants in prior versions of the bill, as well as an allowance for social consumption areas.
Cultivation Law Changes
Under HB 12 as amended, meanwhile, state regulators would be able to limit producers—as well as temporarily halt the issuance of new cultivation licenses — but only after an advisory committee determination that existing supply threatens the economic viability of the industry, according to an explanation from Linda Trujillo, superintendent of the state Department of Regulation and Licensing. HB 12 also provides automated pardon and expungement procedures for past marijuana possession charges and convictions. Further, it would set aside future public funds to underwrite vocation training for cannabis workers, education to prevent substance abuse and an array of social services in communities battered by policing against illicit drugs. Legislators have until the close of the regular annual legislative session at noon on March 20 to send bills to the governor. HB 12 goes further, and sets a timeline, calling for rules to be developed by January 1, 2022, and license applications to be accepted by July 1, 2022. Also proposed is that existing medical marijuana operators in the state could start recreational sales for adult-use on October 1, 2021.
Regulating Marijuana in New Mexico
In other cannabis laws of New Mexico news, the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation committee unanimously passed a Republican-led bill to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older at the hearing. Medical marijuana laws are also under review. With Senate Bill 340, members voted to ban sales to out-of-state residents who do not have a medical marijuana card issued in New Mexico. An amendment was also rejected which would have increased the daily sales limit for medical patients from three grams to two ounces. SB 340 passed on a 28-11 vote, and now moves to the House with just five days left in the session, which ends Saturday, March 20th.
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