New Mexico is Set to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

New Mexico will become the 16th State to legalize recreational marijuana once Gov. Lujan Grisham signs the legislation.


On Tuesday, March 30, New Mexico state lawmakers held a special legislative session regarding the legalization and taxation of recreational marijuana. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham called the session primarily to push legalization across the finish line. She says “[the effort] is important enough and we’re close enough” to get it done. Lujan Grisham said the purpose of the session was “to legalize cannabis and to address social inequalities.” Many lawmakers expressed skepticism about the bills, saying the special session was going to be a complete meltdown, and some opposed adult legalization entirely. On Wednesday, March 31, the New Mexico State legislature voted to pass the bill, legalizing marijuana in New Mexico.
There were multiple bills taken into account, but the most significant was the Cannabis Regulation Act, HB2. HB2 legalizes the recreational use of cannabis for adults 21 and over and creates a path for production and sales. It legalizes up to two ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and over, and allows New Mexicans to apply for a license to grow and sell the plant. Lujan Grisham has promised to sign this bill into law with the following provisions: recreational cannabis sales will be legal in 2022, there will be a maximum 20% tax on recreational cannabis, the state of New Mexico will regulate sellers, and there will be no limits on the number of licenses issued. In addition to this, people that have been convicted of possessing marijuana for personal use will get their criminal record expunged. As always, providing marijuana to children remains a felony, and businesses that sell to people under 21 risk losing their license.
On Thursday, April 1, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed their bill into law, legalizing marijuana, and Lujan Grisham is expected to do the same in early April, making New Mexico the 16th state to legalize marijuana.
Supporters of the legalization say that this eliminates the harms of marijuana prohibition: thousands of arrests within the US, the racial disparities behind the arrests, and the billions of dollars that are produced from black market drug cartels and other violent operations. Advocates say all of these positive outcomes outweigh the possible downside of increased cannabis use throughout the states. Opponents, though, argue that legalization will create a massive marijuana industry and thus the drug will become marketed irresponsibly. They cite America’s ongoing struggles with alcohol and tobacco and the financial empires that those companies have built as well as health concerns related to the plant. But for now, it seems that in both New York and New Mexico, supporters have won the argument.