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New Mexico Legalizes Recreational, Adult-Use Cannabis



The latest state in a recent wave of cannabis legalization across the country, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill into law Monday legalizing recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older. It is the seventh state since November to end cannabis prohibition, and it is the 17th state in the nation so far to legalize adult-use cannabis.

The governor says the legalization bill is beneficial for job creation and generating revenue. According to the fiscal impact report, an estimated 1,593 jobs could be created through additional employment in dispensaries. New Mexico will have an additional tax on recreational cannabis sales, starting at 12 percent and moving over time to 18 percent, on top of current, local sales tax.

On Monday, Governor Grisham also touched on how drug criminalization and policing has impacted people of color and how the new law could free people in prison and expunge thousands of criminal records.

“It is good for workers. It is good for entrepreneurs. It is good for consumers,” Governor Grisham said. “And it brings about social justice in ways in which we have been talking about and advocating for, for decades.”

The legislation also allows the state to make agreements with Native American governments and could open the cannabis industry to tribal enterprises.

People ages 21 and over are allowed to grow cannabis at their homes and possess up to two ounces outside their homes starting June 29, Agency Superintendent Linda Trujilllo said. Home growers will be allowed to grow up to six plants per person, or 12 plants per household. 

Recreational cannabis sales are set to begin by April 1, 2022 at state-licensed dispensaries. Regulators are preparing to accept applications for a variety of cannabis businesses as soon as September. Rules surrounding product safety, minimum qualifications for a cannabis business license and standards for vetting and training for cannabis employees and servers are due by the start of 2022.

In addition, local governments cannot prohibit cannabis businesses from opening, but they do have a say through zoning about the location and operating hours.

New Mexico’s new legislation comes following recreational cannabis legalization in three states over the past two months: New Jersey, New York and Virginia. Many legislators across these states hope the recent momentum will push action at a federal level. 

State Representative Javier Martínez of Albuquerque, whose legalization framework and procedures to expunge convictions received support from legislators, expressed a similar sentiment. “I grew up along the border. I’ve seen what the war on drugs has done. I’m proud that New Mexico—little, old New Mexico—has done its part to tell the federal government once and for all to legalize cannabis for the people.”