Will New Mexico Marijuana Laws Open Up Recreational Use in 2019?

Here at Sacred Garden, we are often asked by our valued customers if we think New Mexico will ever legalize recreational marijuana.

Based on some very recent action that we have seen in our state’s government, along with our own views on the subject, our answer is, “We hope so!”

While we were encouraged by the recent reports that the New Mexico House recently voted to legalize recreational marijuana, we were disappointed that this bill failed to pass in our state’s Senate.

As U.S. News and World Report notes (1), the bipartisan bill that would have made New Mexico the 11th state to allow non-medical use of marijuana stalled in the Senate. If it was adopted, the bill would have led to a sales model in New Mexico that is similar to what is currently taking place in Washington and Colorado, with a few key exceptions. For example, it would have created state-run marijuana stores, which has not happened in other states but was a compromise for our state’s Republicans.

When legislators in the House first introduced the recreational marijuana bill in January of this year, state ownership was not in the cards. There were restrictions on where recreational marijuana could be sold. For example, dispensary owners had to be careful how close they were to schools and churches, although their business model was assumed to be private.

While this news is probably disappointing to many of our valued customers, we are looking at the bright side. For instance, this was the first time that a recreational marijuana bill passed in our state’s Legislature, so progress is being made. In addition, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham was recently quoted as saying that marijuana legalization will be back on the legislative agenda next year.

In other words, House Bill 356, which would have legalized recreational marijuana use for adults—as well as invested in community public safety and substance abuse treatment programs—may have failed this time around, but we are optimistic that it will pass next year.

The state Legislature did make some significant and positive changes; for instance, they reduced penalties for the possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana. Under Senate Bill 323, New Mexico will now impose a $50 fine on a person who is found with up to a half ounce of recreational marijuana on them. This will now also be a civil citation, instead of a criminal misdemeanor. Another bill, called Senate Bill 406, will expand medical marijuana access and add legal protection for job applicants or employees who use medical marijuana.

A recent Rolling Stone article (2) also notes that the specifics of the bill, even though it didn’t pass, could serve as a national model for other states. In other words, New Mexico could soon be viewed as a leader in the recreational marijuana industry.

At Sacred Garden, we will continue to follow this important news story and provide updates as they happen. If this article is making you a little anxious, read here to learn if marijuana could help with anxiety.

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