Back in 2007, New Mexico became the 12th state to legalize medical cannabis and create a sustainable state-wide system. Since its implementation, areas for improvement were identified and House Bill 527 was approved by the legislature in 2017. Although the measure easily passed with bipartisan support, Republican Governor Susan Martinez vetoed the bill once it arrived at her desk.
Fast forward to 2018 and the state’s registry has grown to nearly 60,000 patients. Democrat Michelle Luján Grisham, who supports both medial and adult use cannabis, has taken office as Governor. Changes happen quickly, including Albuquerque decriminalizing the possession of under an ounce of cannabis to a mere $25 civil fine. To improve the shortfall of medical cannabis for the program, a judge removes the 450-plant cap on licensed cannabis producers and the Department of Health ups the count to 2,500.
While the 2018 legislative session ended before a vote on measures to further decriminalize cannabis and regulate adult use cannabis (HB 312), it seems that New Mexico was far from done with improving cannabis laws in New Mexico.
New Laws Approved During the 2019 Session
This year, several bills focused on improving cannabis laws in New Mexico were once again introduced and passed during the legislative session. Governor Luján Grisham is expected to sign them any day, and the new laws will go into effect on July 1, 2019.
Here’s a quick rundown of the bills that were passed to improve cannabis laws in New Mexico:
- Senate Bill 406 expands the current medical cannabis program to offer treatment for patients who suffer from PTSD, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, sleep apnea, severe chronic pain and more. It also provides legal protection for employees based only on their medical cannabis status and failure to pass a drug test. In addition, SB 406 lifts limits on the percentage of THC and other cannabinoids allowed in commercial products.
- In tandem to SB 406, Senate Bill 204 establishes rules and guidelines for public schools to store and administer medical cannabis products to students during school hours.
- Senate Bill 323 was passed to more broadly decriminalize cannabis in the state. It will no longer be a criminal misdemeanor for first-time possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis which previously carried a possible punishment of up to 15 days in jail. It will be considered a “penalty assessment” subject to a $50 fine. However, multiple offenses and larger quantities will still be punishable with a jail sentence.
- Finally, House Bill 581 sets out to create a regulatory structure allowing New Mexico to engage in the hemp industry in accordance with the 2018 Federal Farm Act. The framework would cover research, production, testing, manufacturing and the transport of hemp and hemp products.
As for a bill to legalize, regulate and tax adult use cannabis, a narrowly-passed House measure made its way to the Senate during the 2019 session. While it passed one Senate Committee, HB 356 stalled and once it reached the Senate Finance Committee where the Chair, conservative Democrat John Arthur Smith, failed to call the bill for a vote. He stated that an appropriations bill was his committee’s priority.
However, all hope is not lost for cannabis laws in New Mexico. Governor Luján Grisham has already stated that she will place adult use on the agenda for next year’s legislative session.
The Medicine Man Technologies team will be sure to provide updates on New Mexico – stay tuned.
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