New Mexico

New Mexico Just Took a Major Step Toward Legalizing Recreational Pot

New Mexico is on track to become the 11th legalization state.


|||Mario Cupkovic/
Mario Cupkovic/

New Mexico may become the next state to legalize recreational pot.

Thursday evening, the state House of Representatives voted to pass House Bill 356, also known as the Cannabis Regulation Act. The bill would allow adults—ages 21 and up—to use recreational marijuana, would subject pot sales to taxation, would establish special licensing for weed establishments, and would create rules for advertising pot products. It also contains provisions to reopen the cases of those incarcerated for acts that would no longer be considered criminal if the bill is passed. The legislation was created with bipartisan input from House Democrats and Senate Republicans.

The bill now heads to the Senate. If it passes there, it will go to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. While on the campaign trail in 2017, the Democrat said that she was "committed to working with the Legislature to move towards legalizing recreational cannabis in a way that improves public safety, boosts state revenues, and allows for New Mexico businesses to grow into this new market." That's a shift from her Republican preecessor, Susana Martinez, who vowed to veto any legalization legislation.

New Mexico could thus become the 11th state to permit the possession and use of recreational pot. The other legalization states are Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia. This would be only the second time recreational marijuana was legalized via the legislature instead of a ballot initiative. In 2018, Vermont became the first state to legalize recreational pot this way.

Last month, as the bill was making its way through the House, KOAT reported that the Drug Enforcement Administration's cannabis seizures in New Mexico went down. The agency seized 4,048 pounds of pot in 2018, compared to 8,610 pounds in 2017.

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  1. That’s great, just never mind the universal background check bill, tax increase bill, 100% green energy by 2045 bill, $15 minimum wage with annual inflation increases (which was fortunately negotiated down to something more reasonable but will still be difficult for small towns), potential increase in tax breaks for Hollywood (while another department increases oil & gas lease rates), and the governor telling border ranchers that they’re lying when they say they have crime problems resulting from the lack of security at their part of the border.

    At least the Albuquerque city council postponed the plastic bag ban for now…

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  2. At what point does the narrative on pot legalization become a negative? Like when Arizona was the last state to recognize MLK Jr. day, they weren’t really celebrated for it in the press because they dragged their feet for so long. And who will be the last? Alabama or Mississippi? Those are usually the safe bets.

    1. Mississippi would be a good bet for late legalization.

      Mississippi was the last state to approve the Nineteenth Amendment giving women the right to vote on March 22, 1984 over 63 years after it was adopted on August 18, 1920.

  3. The bill says state run dispensaries only and citizens cannot grow their own.

    This is a lesson on how to mess up legalizing marijuana.

  4. Here in NJ, Gov. Murphy, who made legal pot a major campaign promise, has basically reversed his position and NJ won’t be getting legal pot through the statehouse. First, it’s taxes. He’d demanding extremely high taxes (so high the black market will remain fully intact), and refuses any compromise. Now, it’s whether the commission running it is independent or state run. His position on that really made it clear that he’s going to obstruct legalization indefinitely; he rejected a compromise where the board was independent, but he got to appoint all the members, and re-evaluate it after a year or so to see if it should be switched to full control.
    It’s beyond petty, especially given all the devastation ongoing prohibition is causing, and there’s just no explanation besides him now being fully against legalization but not wanting to take the hit politically by coming out and saying it. Such a fucking scumbag. Maybe if NY legalizes it will force his hand, but I expect Cuomo, as an even bigger piece of shit, will pull the same bullshit, so he can retain support from the anti-legalization crowd but claim he’s fighting for legal pot to retain support from the pro-legalization crowd while obstructing it indefinitely by refusing any compromise on details.

    1. Should have added, the tax is going to be set at an absurd $42/oz. And that’s just the state tax. There will be local and probably other taxes as well. Only people seeking top of the line strains or edibles will bother with the legal stuff at that tax level, and the state will make dramatically less in tax revenue than their forecasts, because the black market will retain a majority of sales.

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  6. Your confusion is understandable, but this blog is called The Volokh Conspiracy.

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