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New Mexico Becomes 18th State to Legalize Marijuana

NM Cannabis Legalization

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Cannabis Regulation Act (HB 2) into law on April 12, making New Mexico the 18th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over.

“We commend New Mexico lawmakers and advocates for ending cannabis prohibition,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project. “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.”

HB 2 legalizes personal possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and home cultivation of six mature plants for adults 21 and over. Additionally, HB 2 includes measures to encourage those who were disproportionately impacted by prohibition to enter the new industry. A companion bill — SB 2 — will provide for automatic expungement. Legal sales will begin no later than April 1, 2022. A summary of HB 2 is available here.

New Mexico is now the fifth state to adopt a legalization policy by passing a bill through its state legislature, joining Illinois, Vermont, New York, and Virginia. Thirteen additional states have legalized by voter initiative. Notably, more than 43% of Americans now live in a jurisdiction with legal cannabis.

“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.

New Mexico’s success comes on the heels of a win in Virginia, where just last Wednesday, the legislature gave final approval to Gov. Ralph Northam’s requested amendments — to speed up legal possession and home cultivation to July 2021 (versus 2024) — to a legislatively passed legalization bill. On March 31, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo also signed cannabis legalization into law. Additionally, MPP is advocating for legalization bills that have solid prospects in the Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island state legislatures.