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Marijuana now legal in New Mexico after special legislative session

Under new legislation signed into law April 12, not only will cannabis be legal in New Mexico, but criminal records for past marijuana activities that are legal under the new laws will be expunged and can no longer be used to prohibit a person from obtaining professional positions, licenses, or jobs. (Illustration by Claudia Silva/Kokopelli)

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Cannabis Regulation Act on April 12, legalizing marijuana for recreational use in New Mexico. Known formally as HB2, the bill was passed during a special legislative session and will go into effect in stages over the next several months.

Lawmakers also passed a companion bill, which expunges past marijuana convictions for people who were charged with possessing it for personal use.

Gov. Lujan Grisham praised the bills in her official statement, prior to signing them, saying that workers, entrepreneurs, the economy and government will benefit from the new legislation as it will create new jobs and sources of tax revenue.

“This is a good bill. This special session was a success. 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,” Lujan Grisham said.

Under the new law:

  • The start of recreational cannabis sales would begin no later than April 2022 and will be taxed at 12%.  The tax will gradually increase, reaching 18% by 2030. Patients with medical marijuana cards will be exempt from the tax under the new legislation.
  • Adults over 21 will be permitted to have up to two ounces of marijuana on them, and hobbyists will be allowed to grow up to six plants for personal use, or 12 plants per household.
  • Advertising cannabis to people under 21 will be prohibited, including cartoon-like imagery that may appeal to children.

According to a fiscal analysis done by The Albuquerque Journal, the industry will produce an estimated $20 million in revenue for the state by 2023, and $10 million for local governments.

Daniel Peterson, a student at NMSU, is in full support of the new law.

“I think it will be very beneficial for New Mexico’s economy. The legalization will allow farmers to potentially pursue a new avenue that should be extremely profitable. Hopefully, the next step we take is to free people only jailed on marijuana possession,” Peterson said.

Under the new law, criminal records for past marijuana activities that are now legal will be expunged and can no longer be used to prohibit a person from obtaining professional positions, licenses, or jobs. According to The Associated Press, roughly 100 prisoners will have their sentences reconsidered under the new law.

“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,” the governor said in a tweet, after the House passed the bill.

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