New Mexico Legislature adjourns, prevents vote on legalization
Last update: September 19, 2016
Tax and regulate
The New Mexico Legislature’s 2016 session adjourned on February 18 without enacting new marijuana legislation. Three bills were introduced — HB 75, SJR 5, and SJR 6 — that would have legalized adult use of marijuana through a taxed and regulated system.
SJR 5, which would have allowed the voters to decide whether to legalize marijuana, was passed by the Senate Rules Committee, but failed on the Senate floor by a vote of 17-24, meaning voters will not be able to decide the issue for themselves in November.
Recent polls have found that two-thirds of New Mexicans support taxing and regulating marijuana like alcohol. Marijuana prohibition is a failed policy that costs a tremendous amount in law enforcement resources, all while depriving New Mexico of tens of millions of annual tax revenue. Taxing and regulating marijuana would allow for increased funding for New Mexico’s schools, Medicaid program, and drug and alcohol counseling, just as it has in Colorado.
Let your elected officials know you care about ending marijuana prohibition and that you want New Mexico to be one of the first states in the nation to end cannabis prohibition through legislative reform.
New Mexico is one of 25 states (plus D.C.) that have removed criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. As of June 2016, there were over 26,568 registered patients served by 35 licensed non-profit producers. There are also 5,865 active personal production licenses.
For information on New Mexico’s medical marijuana program, including information on qualifying conditions and how to become a patient, please visit the New Mexico Health Department’s information page.
While New Mexico’s marijuana laws are less draconian than those of most states, the state still criminalizes its residents for using a substance that is safer than alcohol. Possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for non-medical purposes is punishable by a $50-100 fine and up to 15 days in jail. A second offense, or a conviction for possession of more than an ounce, can lead to a fine of up to $1,000 and a prison term of up to one year.
In 2015, the Senate approved a bill to replace criminal penalties for possessing up to an ounce of marijuana with a $50 civil fine, but the House failed to take a vote on the measure. Some localities are taking action on their own: In November 2014, voters in Santa Fe and Bernalillo Counties — representing 40% of the state’s population — approved advisory questions asking their elected officials to support decriminalization. The questions won with 73% support in Santa Fe County and 59% in Bernalillo County.
- Ask your state legislators to support imposing a modest civil fine, not jail time, on simple possession of marijuana.
- Urge your legislators to replace marijuana prohibition with sensible regulations.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in New Mexico, subscribe to MPP’s free legislative alert service.
If you are a doctor, veteran, law enforcement official, a person who was arrested for marijuana possession, or an attorney, please email [email protected] to learn how you can be of special help.