New Mexico Becomes 18th State to Legalize Recreational Cannabis

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Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) signed the Cannabis Regulation Act (HB 2) into law on Monday. This makes New Mexico the 18th state to legalize recreational cannabis for anyone 21 and over.

Details of Legalization

This is great news for both the residents of New Mexico and advocates of cannabis legalization. This legalization will do many great things for the state, other than provide cannabis for residents. First, HB 2 legalizes personal possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and home cultivation of six mature plants.

Additionally, HB 2 includes measures to encourage those disproportionately impacted by prohibition to enter the new industry. A companion bill — SB 2 — will provide for automatic expungement. In other words, those who were affected by the war on drugs in New Mexico will have new opportunities to correct their past. One such opportunity would have records with minor drug-related charges. By doing this, the government will begin the process of fixing what they have broken.

Legal sales will begin no later than April 1, 2022. A summary of HB 2 is available here.

“We commend New Mexico lawmakers and advocates for ending cannabis prohibition,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project. “This move will end the injustice of criminalizing New Mexicans for a substance that is safer than alcohol. States across the country are rolling back prohibition and finding that legalizing and regulating cannabis works. This victory in New Mexico, along with the recent legalization victories in New York and Virginia, will help tip the scale towards federal cannabis reform.”

A Step in the Right Direction

New Mexico is now the fifth state to adopt a legalization policy by passing a bill through its state legislature, joining Illinois, Vermont, New York, and Virginia. Notably, more than 43% of Americans now live in a jurisdiction with legal cannabis.

New Mexico’s success comes on the heels of a win in Virginia. Just last Wednesday, the legislature gave final approval to Gov. Ralph Northam’s requested amendments — to speed up legal possession and home cultivation to July 2021 (versus 2024) — to a legislatively passed legalization bill. On March 31, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also signed cannabis legalization into law. Additionally, MPP advocates for legalization bills that have solid prospects in the Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island state legislatures.

“In less than a month, the number of states that have legalized cannabis through the legislative process has more than doubled —  from two to five,” said Matt Simon, senior legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project.  “While we are encouraged by this progress, we urgently call on the other 32 state legislatures to listen to their constituents and legalize cannabis. With supermajority support for legalization, it is outrageous that more than 1,000 Americans are arrested for cannabis every day.”

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