New Mexico will become the 18th state to approve legal recreational cannabis when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signs a bill just passed by the legislature. The vote came on the same day that New York’s governor signed a cannabis legalization bill into law.
Lujan Grisham has indicated that she will sign the bill that passed on March 31 in a special legislative session. The legislature also passed a separate bill that will expunge some previous cannabis convictions.
“This is a significant victory for New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said in a statement. “Workers will benefit from the opportunity to build careers in this new economy. Entrepreneurs will benefit from the opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises. The state and local governments will benefit from the additional revenue. Consumers will benefit from the standardization and regulation that comes with a bona fide industry. And those who have been harmed by this country’s failed war on drugs, disproportionately communities of color, will benefit from our state’s smart, fair and equitable new approach to past low-level convictions.”
Legal sales are expected to launch by April 1, 2022. There will be no limit to the number of licenses the state can issue, although the number of producers and dispensaries may be limited later. Microbusinesses with 200 or fewer plants will be allowed to grow, process and sell cannabis with a single license (sometimes called vertical integration).
Additional elements of the new law, according to Marijuana Moment, include:
- Adults can possess up to two ounces of flower, 16 grams of concentrates, and edibles containing up to 800 milligrams of THC
- Individual home cultivators can grow up to six mature plants, with a household total of 12
- Recreational cannabis will have a 12 percent retail sales tax (in addition to New Mexico’s existing 8 percent sales tax). Between 2025 and 2030, the tax will increase 1 percent each year. Medical cannabis will not have an excise tax
- Municipalities can use their zoning authority to limit the number and location of cannabis businesses, but will not be able to ban them altogether
- If there is a statewide cannabis shortage after the recreational market opens, the state can force licensed producers to reserve up to 10 percent of their products for medical patients
- A new agency within the Regulation and Licensing Department, called the Cannabis Control Division, will regulate both the recreational and medical programs
The cannabis industry is expected to bring in $20 million in revenue for the state in 2023, as well as $10 million for local governments, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
Cannabis containing more than 0.3 percent delta-9 THC remains federally illegal, although congressional Democrats hope to pass a bill this year that would legalize marijuana. Legalization in New Mexico means more than one-third of U.S. states have passed bills or voter referendums to approve recreational cannabis. Thirty-eight states have some form of medical cannabis program.