Legalization effort shifts to 2021
Last update: February 21, 2020
Although Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) included legalization in her legislative agenda, 2020’s legalization bill — SB 115— was unable to make it through the legislature during its short 30-day session.
The bill was approved by the Senate Public Affairs Committee (4-3), but was then tabled by the Senate Judiciary Committee (6-4) just days before the legislature adjourned its 2020 session. After the committee vote, Gov. Lujan Grisham stated that, “The door remains open. We will keep working to get it done.”
The focus now shifts to 2021. Polling has shown that the majority of New Mexicans support legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis or adult use. Please email your lawmakers and ask them to end marijuana prohibition in the Land of Enchantment!
New Mexico governor signs marijuana decriminalization bill
On April 3, 2019, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed SB 323, which decriminalizes up to a half ounce of marijuana. In doing so, New Mexico became the 24th state to decriminalize marijuana possession. (It was soon followed by Hawaii and North Dakota, bringing the total to 26). The penalty for possessing up to half an ounce of marijuana is a $50 civil fine, instead of potential jail time.
Unfortunately, decriminalization does nothing to control the illicit market. Adults should have access to safe, regulated places to purchase marijuana. A poll commissioned by the governor-appointed marijuana working group found that three out of four voters in the state support legalizing cannabis for adult-use.
New Mexico is one of 33 states (plus D.C.) that have removed criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana. In June 2019, the New Mexico Department of Health added six new qualifying conditions (opioid use disorder, autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, Friedreich’s Ataxia, Lewy Body Disease, and spinal muscular atrophy) to the state’s medical cannabis program, raising the total number of qualifying conditions to 28.
The legislature and governor also enacted SB 406 during the 2019 session to expand the state’s medical cannabis program. SB 406 includes reciprocity for visiting patients, allows home growers to pay manufacturers to process their cannabis, allows patients to renew their medical cannabis cards every three years rather than annually, and includes employment protections for medical cannabis patients.
In another positive development, in a 2018 court ruling, 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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