New Mexico Joins New York and 15 Other States in Legalizing Marijuana
Yesterday, on the same day that New York became the 16th state to legalize recreational marijuana, legislators in Santa Fe approved a bill that will add New Mexico to that list. The Cannabis Regulation Act passed the state House by a vote of 22–15 and the state Senate by a vote of 38–32 during a special session convened by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is expected to sign the bill soon.
New Mexico is the fourth state, in addition to New York, Illinois, and Vermont, to legalize marijuana through the legislature. Thirteen other states have approved legalization by ballot initiative, although South Dakota’s measure is tied up in the courts.
The New Mexico bill allows adults 21 or older to purchase and possess in public up to two ounces of marijuana, 16 grams of cannabis extract, and “eight hundred milligrams of edible cannabis” (by which it presumably means edibles containing up to 800 milligrams of THC). Residents also can legally transfer those amounts to other adults “without financial consideration.” The bill imposes no limits on possession at home.
Marijuana use will be allowed in licensed “cannabis consumption areas.” The bill refers specifically to “smoking cannabis,” which suggests that other kinds of consumption will be allowed elsewhere.
Adults will be allowed to grow up to six mature and six immature cannabis plants at home. Unlike New York’s law, which delays permission for homegrown marijuana until up to 18 months after the first state-licensed retailer opens (which may not happen until late next year), New Mexico’s bill allows home cultivation while the state creates a system for licensing and regulating commercial production and distribution.
The bill assigns that task to a newly created Cannabis Control Division of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department. The division is required to write rules for licensing and regulating recreational marijuana businesses by January 1. That is also the deadline for beginning to process license applications. The division is required to begin allowing retail sales by April 1, 2022.
The retail sale of cannabis products will be taxed at a rate of 12 percent—substantially lower than the THC and sales taxes New York plans to collect. A third of the revenue is earmarked for local governments.
A fiscal impact report from the Legislative Finance Committee notes that “there is no effective date of this bill,” so “it is assumed that the effective date is 90 days following adjournment of the Legislature.” That implies decriminalization of possession and home cultivation will take effect in June.
Another bill approved by New Mexico legislators yesterday, which Lujan Grisham also is expected to sign, requires automatic ex
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