New Mexico Lawmakers Pass Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Bill

The last step is for the governor to sign the bill.
New Mexico Lawmakers Pass Adult-Use Cannabis Legalization Bill

New Mexico lawmakers passed a bill to legalize recreational cannabis on Wednesday, making the state the second in the nation to approve such legislation this week. Also on Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York signed an adult-use cannabis law passed by the legislature late Tuesday, making the Empire State the 16th in the nation to do so.

New Mexico lawmakers came close to reaching an agreement on legalizing recreational marijuana use and sales last month, but failed to complete a deal by the end of the legislative session on March 20. That led Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to call a special legislative session that began on Tuesday to complete work on the legalization bill.

State legislators also passed a separate measure that will expunge the records of those with convictions for some past marijuana offenses. Lujan Grisham said she would sign the bills and  characterized the special legislative session as a “success” after the bills were passed by lawmakers.

“This is a significant victory for New Mexico. 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 governor said in a statement released on Wednesday. “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. And 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.”

Up To Two Ounces Of Pot OK Under Bill

Under the Cannabis Regulation Act, adults 21 and older will be permitted to possess or purchase up to two ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six cannabis plants, with a total of 12 plants allowed per household. The bill also establishes standards for the licensing, taxation, and regulation of businesses for the cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and sales of cannabis products. Retail sales of cannabis would begin no later than April 1, 2022 under the bill.

“This is a good bill. This special session was a success,” Lujan Grisham continued. “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. Change never comes easily and rarely does it occur as quickly as we might like.”

The second bill passed by New Mexico lawmakers on Wednesday would expunge convictions for offenses that are no longer illegal under the Cannabis Regulation Act.

“This important legislation accompanies the legalization of cannabis and will ensure that New Mexico ends the harmful long-term impacts of cannabis conviction records, enabling New Mexicans to build better futures,” Lujan Grisham wrote on Twitter.

Moved Hailed By Cannabis Activists And Industry

“New Mexico joins an ever growing list of states that have realized the failures of marijuana prohibition and the harms it brings to their communities and citizens,” said Erik Altieri, the executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). 

Mason Tvert, partner at cannabis policy and public affairs consulting firm VS Strategies, applauded the progress in reform seen this week in an email to High Times.

“Legalization was long overdue in New Mexico, but it came at just the right time to remind people that significant reform is possible and taking place in all corners of the country,” said Tvert. “We are not only seeing legalization victories in legislatures on the East Coast, but also in the Southwest. In addition to being hugely beneficial for these states themselves, it helps push things along at the federal level. The contingent of congressional members who represent legalization states is steadily growing larger and more diverse.”

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