New Mexico governor signs marijuana decriminalization bill
Last update: April 5, 2019
On April 3, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed SB 323, which decriminalizes up to a half ounce of marijuana. New Mexico is the 24th state to decriminalize marijuana possession, and starting on July 1, the penalty for possessing up to half an ounce of marijuana will be a $50 civil fine, instead of potential jail time.
Unfortunately, a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults died in the Senate Finance Committee after passing the House. Adults should have access to safe, regulated places to purchase marijuana, and 60% of New Mexico voters agree, according to a poll from last year.
New Mexicans are ready for legalization, and it’s time for the politicians in Santa Fe to catch up. But New Mexico lacks a voter initiative process. The only way to replace marijuana prohibition with thoughtful regulation in the Land of Enchantment is via the state legislature (directly or by lawmakers putting the issue on the ballot).
New Mexico is one of 32 states (plus D.C.) that have removed criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. As of October 2018, there were 58,789 registered patients served by dozens of licensed nonprofit producers. In addition, 7,341 patients have licenses to cultivate cannabis for themselves.
In a ruling made public on November 2, 2018, a judge overturned the 450-plant cap imposed on licensed nonprofit producers, finding it was arbitrary. Many patients had suffered from a lack of supply and high prices due to the cap. On March 1 2019, the Department of Health temporarily increased the plant count to 2,500 plants.
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.
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