Possession and cultivation of cannabis at home are now legal for adults ages 21 and over in New Mexico—representing a momentous day for the “Land of Enchantment.” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham celebrated by releasing four infographics of what changes take effect immediately.

Under New Mexico’s legislation, The Cannabis Regulation Act, adults who are 21 and older can legally do the following: possess, purchase and give other adults up to two ounces of cannabis, up to 16 grams of concentrate and up to 800 milligrams of cannabis-infused edibles. Adults can also cultivate up to six mature and six immature cannabis plants, up to 12 mature plants per household; create cannabis-infused edibles at home or even make extracts—as long as it does not involve volatile solvents. Adults can also possess larger amounts of cannabis, if it is stored in a locked space at the person’s residence, hidden from public spaces; and possess, manufacture and give away “paraphernalia.”

“This is a landmark day, a huge step forward both for social justice and economic development in our state,” Governor Grisham said in a statement posted on her website. “We are proactively stopping the disproportionate criminalization of people of color for cannabis possession, and we are building a new industry in which all New Mexicans can participate—and that will bring millions of dollars to our local communities and our state.”

As sales are not yet operational, however, it’s unclear how people will obtain cannabis for the time being. It will be about 10 more months until adult-use stores roll out. Governor Grisham signed The Cannabis Regulation Act after calling a special legislative session to secure its final approval earlier this year. The legislation will regulate adult-use cannabis sales in New Mexico, with a deadline of no later than April 1, 2022. However, several provisions of the measure, including home cultivation and possession—the important ones—took effect on June 29.

Half the American Population Now Includes New Mexico

Today there are 18 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, that have enacted legislation to regulate cannabis for adult use, as well as a court-overturned measure in South Dakota, still included in some counts. Official counts will vary, as some sources still don’t count states that are not yet operational.

According to NORML, an estimated 145 million Americans—roughly half of the US population—live or will live in a jurisdiction where adult-use cannabis is approved by law.

“Legalization is now a reality for nearly one-half of the US population,” NORML’s Executive Director Erik Altieri said, referring not only to New Mexico’s first day, but also Virginia and Connecticut’s laws, which took effect during the same week. “As more jurisdictions enact these common-sense regulatory policies, it is imperative that Congress quits stalling and acts to amend federal law to end federal prohibition in a manner that respects the will of the voters in the ever-growing number of states that have implemented legalization.” With so many changes in one week, NORML had to address three states at once.

New Mexico’s Road to Recreational

New Mexico allows marijuana for both medical or recreational purposes. Medical marijuana has been legal in New Mexico since legislation was signed in 2007—with a compassionately long list of qualifying conditions, at least compared to other states. This includes rare inclusions such as Friedreich’s ataxia or Obstructive sleep apnea.

The state does offer reciprocity for medical cannabis patients in other states, however this began as late as March 1, 2020. It would take another 14 years for the state to graduate to adult-use sales.

New Mexico’s House Bill 2, the Cannabis Regulation Act, legalizes and regulates cannabis for adults ages 21 and older. It passed the legislature on March 31, 2021, during Governor Grisham’s special session.

Recreational marijuana sales are planned to launch April 1, 2022 and will include a 12 percent excise tax in addition to sales taxes ranging from about five percent to nine percent. That means that you won’t be able to walk into a recreational cannabis store until April 1, if the regulatory structure rolls out as planned.

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