“New Mexicans are Finally Able to Exhale”

Emily Kaltenbach, Senior Director for Resident States and New Mexico for the Drug Policy Alliance, released the following statement in response to New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signing cannabis legalization into law, just after the New Mexico Legislature’s approval of the Cannabis Regulation Act (HB2/SB2) during special session today in Santa Fe.

“We are honored to celebrate the signing of this legislative package alongside the Governor, who literally stopped at nothing until we were able to get justice for New Mexico communities that have been immensely harmed by cannabis prohibition. Her leadership, along with that of Senator Ortiz y Pino—who we’ve had the privilege of working with since 2014 when he first sponsored cannabis legalization in the state—and Representatives Martinez and Romero are what made this a reality.

Seven years later, New Mexicans are finally able to exhale.  The bill sponsors went to the mat to ensure racial justice and equity provisions, public health safeties, and medical cannabis patient protections were front and center in their legislation.

We wouldn’t be standing here today if it wasn’t for the years of input from New Mexicans across the state from Gallup to Deming to Clovis to Taos. New Mexicans made sure that there are equitable opportunities for farmers and other small businesses, medical cannabis patients, and long-overdue justice for those with past cannabis arrests or convictions.”

Advocacy group NORML reports that retail sales will begin by April 2022. And, that the expungement measure provides eligibility for automatic record expungement. Those who are currently incarcerated for such offenses may be eligible for a sentence reduction.

According to the Department of Public Safety, over 150,000 New Mexico residents are eligible for automatic expungement under this measure.

“This is a day to celebrate! New Mexico will greatly benefit from this new revenue stream and the creation of thousands of jobs. Most notably though, legalization will spare thousands of otherwise law-abiding residents from arrest and a criminal record, and the state’s new expungement law will help provide relief to many who are suffering from the stigma and other collateral consequences associated with a prior marijuana conviction.” states NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf.

New Mexico-image from The Marijuana Policy Project

image from The Marijuana Policy Project

The Marijuana Policy Project explains in their release that this signifies for adults 21 and older, HB 2 legalizes personal possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and home cultivation of up to six mature plants.

“We commend New Mexico lawmakers and advocates for ending cannabis prohibition. This move will end the injustice of criminalizing New Mexicans for a substance that is safer than alcohol. States across the country are rolling back prohibition and finding that legalizing and regulating cannabis works. This victory in New Mexico, along with the recent legalization victories in New York and Virginia, will help tip the scale towards federal cannabis reform,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project.

Additionally, HB 2 contains provisions encouraging those disproportionately harmed by cannabis prohibition to enter the new industry.

“In less than a month, the number of states that have legalized cannabis through the legislative process has more than doubled — from two to five. While we are encouraged by this progress, we urgently call on the other 32 state legislatures to listen to their constituents and legalize cannabis. With supermajority support for legalization, it is outrageous that more than 1,000 Americans are arrested for cannabis every day,” said Matt Simon, senior legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project.

Thirteen additional states have legalized the practice through citizen initiatives. The MPP also notes, over 43% of Americans now live in states that have legalized cannabis.

A summary of HB 2 can be found here.