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New Mexico Just Officially Legalized Cannabis

It’s official: the leader of New Mexico just signed a cannabis bill into law, adding to the growing ranks of already legal U.S. states.

The law was signed this week by Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. With this new ruling, those 21 and up will be able to possess cannabis. Home growing will be legal, as will a regulated market that is projected to start in 2022. It will also allow for the expungement of past cannabis records. Those serving time for cannabis may also be eligible for resentencing.

While it’s still exciting that legal cannabis is official, Governor Lujan Grisham was definitely expected to sign. She has worked hard to push for legalization since she first got into office, even going so far as to call a special session to hear a legal cannabis bill. It was the House and Senate that were closer calls, but her signature still makes the New Mexico law official and ushers in a new era.

While New Mexico has had a medical cannabis program since 2007, for a long time, their acceptance of the plant stopped at medicine. Nearby states like California and Colorado have long since implemented recreational cannabis, but New Mexico is just now taking the plunge.

The Changes In New Mexico’s Cannabis Laws

Lujan Grisham claims that cannabis reform will help bring in money to the state and create more jobs to help boost the economy following COVID.

When she signed the bill, she brought up how legalization will help heal the wounds from the war on drugs that disproportionately penalized people of color and other marginalized folks. An estimated 100 people could be released from prison in New Mexico, and thousands will become eligible to have their records expunged.  

“It is good for workers. It is good for entrepreneurs. It is good for consumers,” she said of legalization. “And it brings about social justice in ways in which we have been talking about and advocating for, for decades.”

Under the new law, Lujan Grisham will appoint a superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Department who will oversee and regulate the industry. The bill includes a concept from Representative Javier Martinez that expunges past cannabis convictions

Martinez claims he supports legalization and hopes the entire U.S. will follow suit in order to quell the drug cartel violence that occurs when cannabis is kept in the illicit market. 

“I grew up along the border. I’ve seen what the war on drugs has done,” Martinez said. “I’m proud that New Mexico — little old New Mexico — has done its part to tell the federal government once and for all to legalize cannabis for the people.”

By the beginning of 2022, rules for the newly legal market will be due, and a format for producing safe products and issuing business licenses and worker licenses will be developed. Only those 21 and up will be able to work in the legal cannabis market. 

The state’s economy will get a big boost from the 12-percent-and-up recreational sales tax in addition to the 18 percent sales tax already in place for sales in New Mexico. Medical cannabis will remain untaxed. 

As more and more states repeal cannabis prohibition, New Mexico joins the ranks of newly legal states and looks forward to a boost in social equity and economic growth.

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