What New Mexico's New Cannabis Law Means For You

There’s a middle-aged family guy shaking up the drug scene in New Mexico and it ain't Walter White, folks. Representative Javier Martínez has been a champion for legalized cannabis for years, and he’s finally gotten his long-sought victory. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed two different bills into law on April 12, 2021, making New Mexico the seventeenth state of our great Union to legalize recreational marijuana (ceding sweet 16 to New York by mere hours) and seventh since the November '20 elections- it's been a good year for cannabiz, baby! Martínez sponsored his first attempt at legalization back in 2016- not that long ago on the bureaucratic time scale- but for those communities and individuals affected by the failed War on Drugs, it couldn't come sooner. And we've even got some good news on that front! Shall we examine further, my lambs? Oh, let's!

Martínez (along with fellow Representative Andrea Romero and Senators Deborah A. Armstrong, Katy Duhigg, and Linda M. Lopez) introduced New Mexico HB 2, otherwise known as the Cannabis Regulation Act (CRA), on March 30, when the Governor called the legislature into a special session with the intent of finalizing the legalization process.

The special session also passed SB 2, aka Expungement of Certain Criminal Records, so NM isn’t just trying to make things better going forward, but also trying to fix some things that have already gone wrong. 

But before you start making plans to relocate, or even just vacation in the Land of Enchantment, let’s take a look at what the new laws can actually do for you. 

new mexico capitol building stock photo

What Is New Mexico's Cannabis Regulation Act?

The CRA allows adults (21 years of age or older) to possess and consume marijuana. It doesn't go into effect until June 29, 2021! The law will also allow you to purchase your ganja from authorized retailers, natch, but it’s going to be about a year before you can walk into a dispensary sans medical card: the target date for retail sales is April 1, 2022. Of course, that’s a “no later than” date instead of an “absolutely not beforehand” hard target, but in the Gentleman's infinite wisdom, these things are more likely to take more time than expected, not less.  

The newly formed Cannabis Control Division- oooh, how Minority Report of them- has a deadline of January 1st to start issuing the necessary licenses. And when was the last time a government entity finished a project with time on the clock? On the other hand, they had a new website up and running before the governor could even jot her Jane Hancock on the new laws, so maybe they’ll surprise us. 

Can I Grow Weed In New Mexico Now?

Yup! I'm really digging New Mexico's approach to legalization, y'all. Growing your own weed is definitely allowed when the new laws take effect, which should help to keep quality up and prices down when recreational dispensaries open their doors to the public. But that’s not a loophole to start farming and decide to make a few bucks of your own; we’re talking about growing for personal use only. Though it’s not illegal to give away the good stuff to another adult, so make sure to spread the love! After checking their IDs, of course, and filling out the proper sex paperwork. Adults are allowed to grow up to twelve plants, but only six of them can be mature at any one time. If you don’t know how to manage your growing schedule, stick with six. Or get some help. Learn. Read the YouTube or whatevs.

How Many Plants Can I Grow At Home?

Also, if you’re sharing a home in New Mexico, it’s important to know that there are household limits: no more than twelve mature plants are allowed in any household, regardless of the number of residents, so if you’ve got a lot of roommates, you’ll have to hammer out those details before you get to planting. And even though NM passed some decriminalization legislation back in 2019, having more than twelve plants can still cost you a fourth-degree felony conviction, so keep that in mind.  

How Much Weed Can I Possess At Home?

On the other hand, there aren’t any quantity limits on the stash you can keep at home (as long as it’s not visible from a public space), so if you do know how to manage your growing schedule, you could probably build up a nice stockpile and have plenty to go around for all the roommates.

There are, however, quantity limits for public possession: two ounces of cannabis, sixteen grams of cannabis extract, and eight hundred milligrams of edible cannabis. More than enough for a night out, but be careful not to transport in excess. Who do you think you are, some kind of..of..Transporter, or something?

But even with all the celebrations, I can hear you now: “What if I’ve already run afoul of outdated, Draconian rules just for enjoying a little bud before the CRA went into effect?” Well, don’t worry; in all of his tireless work, Representative Martínez has not forgotten you.

Here's the money shot of New Mexico's new laws, baby! The Senate Bill signed into law provides protections for those arrested and/or convicted for cannabis infractions and outlines the processes for resolution. 

In a nutshell, the law says that if you have previously been charged for something that is no longer considered a crime once the CRA is effective, or if the crime would’ve been a lesser offense had the CRA already been in effect, those records will be expunged, which means it will be removed from your record entirely. This process is supposed to happen automatically, and the expungement will happen two years after the date of your conviction, or the date of your arrest if you were never convicted. And, if you happened to be under 18 at the time of your arrest, they will expunge the records when you turn 18, even if it hasn’t yet been two years. 

It is important to note that if there were multiple charges stemming from the same arrest, only those related to cannabis will be expunged. So, if you happened to be high while engaging in some light treason, the arms-dealing charges still stand. Sorry, dad.

And, if you are currently sitting in a cell somewhere because of weed, there’s hope for you, too. Within thirty days of the law’s effective date—so, by the end of July—inmates should start seeing courts reviewing convictions, resulting in reduced sentences or even release from incarceration. So tell your moms to hold off on that cake with the file baked in and get some tendies ready instead- your day is coming.

So, there you have it, a brief overview of the new laws in the latest state to finally come to their senses and legalize weed. New Mexican tokers will be able to freely partake by the time they celebrate Independence Day this summer, and if that’s not worth a few extra oohs and aahs, I don’t know what is. New Mexico, we salute you, and, Representative Martínez, in particular. Excelsior, lads. Now get the van, Jesse! We got work to do.

(Only two Breaking Bad jokes in the whole article, aren't you proud of me? Tell me I'm good tell me I'm good tell me I'm good...)