New Mexico became the 17th state to legalize marijuana when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill into law earlier this week, on April 12.
Gov. Grisham was the driving force behind New Mexico’s adult-use law, as she made legalization a priority for the year and even convened a special session to ensure that legislators put a bill on her desk, after lawmakers were unable to move the measure forward during the regular session.
New Mexico also passed a measure to expunge minor marijuana-related criminal records. Expungement was originally part of the legalization bill but ended up as a standalone measure when lawmakers realized the initiatives had a better chance of passing the Senate as separate bills.
The legalization law allows adults 21 and older to possess up to two ounces of marijuana, as well as up to 16 grams of concentrates and 800 mg of THC-infused edibles. Home cultivation of up to six pot plants, or 12 per household, is also legal under the new law.
New Mexico’s new law comes amid a flurry of pro-pot reform as New Jersey, New York, and Virginia have also passed legalization legislation in the first four months of 2021. Of course, the big question in all of the states that have recently approved recreational pot is, when will it be available from dispensaries. New Mexico aims to have retail sales up and running in less than a year. The state has set April 1, 2022 as the opening day of sales. Lawmakers must issue licensing rules by January 1, 2022.
Recreational sales will be hit with a 12 percent excise tax, which will increase gradually until topping out at 18 percent in 2030. Medical cannabis sales will be exempt from the excise tax. And, interestingly, the bill does not allow for local governments to opt out of legal cannabis by banning pot businesses.
While the legislation contains some processes meant to establish inclusion in the industry, lawmakers plan on outlining a stronger social equity program in a separate bill that will function as companion legislation.
With New Mexico joining Colorado and Arizona in legalizing, three of the Four Corners states have approved cannabis for adult use. You’re up next Utah!