New Mexico will be the next state to legalize marijuana as Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham enthusiastically watched the Legislature send the bill to her desk last night while advocates across the nation were still celebrating the morning’s victory in New York.
Under the new plan, sales of adult-use marijuana would begin no later than one year from today. A new Cannabis Control Division of the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department will absorb the medical license under its umbrella.
House Bill 2, the Cannabis Regulation Act, and its companion bill, Senate Bill 2, create the general framework for legalization in New Mexico.
“The bill expunges criminal records for cannabis acts no longer illegal under HB2 & rightly expands the small list of records that can’t be considered for public employment or licensure,” New Mexico House Democrats noted on their official Twitter following the victory.
The plan permits adults over the age of 21 to legally purchase up to two ounces of marijuana. They can also buy up to 16 grams of cannabis extracts. New Mexicans will also be permitted to grow up to six mature plants for their own personal use.
As former-Gov. Bill Richardson did 14 years ago for medical marijuana, Lujan Grisham would prove a critical champion for legal marijuana in the Land of Enchantment.
After noting her pen was ready via Twitter, Lujan Grisham issued a statement on the legislation, following a two-day special session.
“This is a significant victory for New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said. “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.”
Lujan Grisham went on to note a lot of the work was done during the regular session, but the two-day session certainly proved a success. She also thanked her fellow advocates leading the charge.
“This is a good bill,” Lujan Grisham said. “This special session was a success. And the work of making sure that this industry is a success, that New Mexicans are able to reap the full economic and social benefit of legalized adult-use cannabis, that workplace and roadway safety are assured to the greatest degree possible – that work will go on. Change never comes easily and rarely does it occur as quickly as we might like. But with this major step forward, we are signaling more clearly than ever before that we are ready, as a state, to truly break new ground, to think differently about ourselves and our economic future, to fearlessly invest in ourselves and in the limitless potential of New Mexicans.”
The governor again took to twitter on Thursday morning as advocates await word of a signing. She said change never comes easy and rarely does it occur as quickly as we might like. “But with this major step forward, we are signaling more clearly than ever before that we are ready, as a state, to truly break new ground, to think differently about ourselves and our future.”
It’s been a wild 48 hours for the team at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana (NORML) after 50 years of effort.
“These important policy changes will ensure that consumers going forward will no longer suffer criminal arrest and prosecution, while also remedying past injustices caused by the drug war,” said Carly Wolf, NORML’s State Policies Manager.
Wolf was excited to see, for the second time in as many days, a legalization plan that didn’t forget about the communities devastated by previous enforcement.
“I commend lawmakers for working together to craft legislation that prioritizes social justice and inclusion,” Wolf said. “Passage of this legislation will ensure that minor marijuana possession offenders, many of them young people, are no longer saddled with a criminal record and the lifelong penalties and stigma associated with it.”
NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri also issued a statement, reminded everyone the legislative efforts we’re seeing in New York and New Mexico are now the norm.
“New Mexico joins an ever-growing list of states that have realized the failures of marijuana prohibition and the harms it brings to their communities and citizens. They are the third state so far this year that has approved legalization via the legislative process and we expect several more will follow suit in a short period of time,” Altieri said.
Altieri believes the dominoes will continue to fall, one by one, as more and more Americans normalize their relationship with marijuana as it continues its exit from the illicit market.
“The American people are demanding an end to prohibitionist policies that have wreaked havoc on communities of color, squandered countless millions in taxpayer dollars, and wasted limited judicial and law enforcement resources on criminalizing otherwise law-abiding individuals for possession of a product that is objectively less harmful than currently legal alcohol and tobacco,” Altieri said. “Thankfully, lawmakers at the state level are finally implementing the will of their constituents and, by doing so, they are applying further pressure on the federal government to finally deschedule marijuana nationally and end this ongoing tension between state and federal policies.”