New Mexico voters placed Michelle Lujan Grishamin in the governor’s seat during the 2018 midterm elections. Governor Grishamin is a strong supporter of cannabis legalization in her state and gained some additional allies in the state’s house of representatives. The full house will decide on H.B. 356 soon, which would legalize the consumption and sale of recreational marijuana to anyone 21 years of age or older if it were to make it all the way to the governor’s desk. While the country waits to see if New Mexico will be the next state to join the growing list of states that have legalized cannabis, the New Mexico department of health already expanded the medical marijuana program.
Medical marijuana producers around New Mexico were limited to only growing 450 plants for cultivation of medical marijuana until a recent court order ruled that the limit was unlawful. The state health department took action by amending the state’s current medical marijuana law so that producers can now grow as many as 2,500 plants at a time. The more than 5X expansion of medical marijuana plants for producers is yet another sign of how New Mexico is warming up to marijuana reform and full legalization. The current amendment will expire on August 28th when the department of health will then have to make a permanent rule on how many plants can be grown. The additional production capacity should be able to better supply medical marijuana patients and also bring costs down.
It is still up in the air whether the senate or the house of representatives will vote to legalize recreational marijuana. H.B. 356 would allow the following if it passes:
- The sale of cannabis to anyone 21 years of age or older
- Up to a 19% tax on adult-use sales
- Counties and cities could opt out of participating in cannabis sales
- Expunging marijuana possession convictions and arrests from records
More and more states focus marijuana reform legislation to include tossing out records of nonviolent marijuana related misdemeanors. We have seen cities like Seattle and San Francisco be very proactive in cleaning up records so that individuals will not run into as many roadblocks when applying for a job or admittance into a school. Otherwise, those that have been convicted of marijuana possession in states that now have legalized cannabis must cut through a lot of red tape to clear their records.
New Mexico is also neighbors with Colorado to its north which legalized recreational marijuana back in 2014. Like so many other states that are considering the legalization of cannabis, economic concerns about residents traveling to a neighboring state to purchase weed and other products while they are visiting are valid. Many state officials in New Mexico are worried they are moving too fast and that there is not enough research or data on how it impacts driving under the influence, employees at the workplace or how to keep it out of the hands of children.
A senate bill has also been introduced in New Mexico, S.B. 577 would mandate that all marijuana dispensaries be state run. One way or another New Mexico is now very caught up in the green wave of legalization washing over the United States.