Legislature passes legalization bill during special session; Gov. Grisham signs it, making New Mexico the 18th state to legalize cannabis for adults
Last update: April 12, 2021
On Wednesday, March 31, during a special session, the New Mexico House and Senate passed a bill to legalize, regulate and tax cannabis for adults 21 and older. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill on April 12, making New Mexico the 18th state to legalize adult-use cannabis and the fifth to do so through the legislative process rather than by voter initiative.
You can read a summary of the final bill, HB 2, here.
Gov. Grisham called the legislature into special session because she wanted them to finish their work on this bill. The House of Representatives had already approved (39-31) Rep. Javier Martinez’ bill to legalize cannabis for adult use, HB 12, on February 26, but time ran out in the regular session before the Senate could bring it to a vote. The bill was reintroduced in the special session as HB 2.
In addition to legalizing personal possession of at least two ounces of cannabis, HB 2 will also allow home cultivation of six mature plants. A companion bill — SB 2 — will provide for automatic expungement.
New Mexico governor signs marijuana decriminalization bill
On April 3, 2019, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed SB 323, which decriminalized up to a half ounce of marijuana. The penalty for possessing up to half an ounce of marijuana was reduced to a $50 civil fine, instead of potential jail time.
New Mexico is one of 36 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’sinformation page.