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New Mexico to Become the 17th State to Legalize Marijuana

New Mexico Cannabis Legalization

On March 31, legislation that would legalize, regulate, and tax cannabis sales for adults 21 and over in New Mexico — HB 2 — received final approval from state legislators. The bill now proceeds to the desk of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D), who has pledged to sign it into law.

With the governor’s signature, New Mexico will become the 17th state to legalize cannabis for adult use and the fourth state to adopt a legalization policy by passing a bill through its state legislature, joining Illinois, Vermont, and New York. Thirteen additional states, such as Arizona in Nov 2020, have legalized by voter initiative.

“New Mexico legislators and advocates deserve a round of applause as they are on the verge of legalizing cannabis for adult use. This year is proving to be nothing short of monumental for the cannabis policy reform movement. State legislatures across the nation are recognizing the urgent need to end cannabis prohibition and are rising to the challenge,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project

Under HB 2, personal possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and home cultivation of six mature plants will be legal for adults 21 and over. Additionally, HB 2 includes measures that would encourage those who were disproportionately impacted by prohibition to enter the new industry. Legal sales would begin no later than April 1, 2022. A companion bill provides for automatic expungement.

Polling has shown that the majority of New Mexicans support legalizing, taxing, and regulating cannabis for adult use, and a 2020 Gallup poll found 68% of Americans support legalization.

“A majority of New Mexicans have made it clear that they support legalizing and regulating cannabis sales. Legalizing cannabis will generate millions in new tax revenue and end the injustice of penalizing New Mexicans for a substance that is safer than alcohol. Sixteen states — including New Mexico’s neighbors, Arizona and Colorado — have legalized cannabis for adults 21 and older, and now New Mexico is following suit,” said Matt Simon, senior legislative analyst at the Marijuana Policy Project.

Several other state legislatures are considering legalization this year. Earlier today, New York became the 16th state to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and over, while Virginia lawmakers are on the cusp of enacting a legalization law. Bills that would legalize cannabis are also being seriously considered in Connecticut, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

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