Cannabis aficionados and entrepreneurs across New Mexico are bracing for the April 1 start of state-regulated recreational marijuana.
New Mexico joins 17 other states that have legalized adult-use marijuana without significant legal challenges. The start date for sales ushers in a new era for cannabis as big business with implications for law enforcement, scarce water resources, economic opportunity and cannabis tourism along the state line with Texas.
Starting at midnight on April 1, adults 21 and up will be allowed to buy up to 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana at retail outlets throughout the state.
The changes take effect 15 years after the state first began offering medical marijuana to help people endure afflictions including cancer, and a portion of future supplies are being reserved for cannabis patients.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and allied lawmakers hope that broad legalizing of marijuana will stamp out black markets, boost employment and provide a stable new sources of government income.
So far, the state has licensed more than 500 business premises — outdoor farms, greenhouses, retail outlets and manufacturing facilities for extracts and edibles.
The new “cannabis control” office also licenses marijuana consumption lounges and a private network of testing laboratories to ensure products are free of contaminants and to verify drug potency as listed on labels.
Already, there are 225 licensed retail outlets — though not all will open on Day 1.
The state will levy a 12% excise tax on the sale of marijuana that eventually increases to 18%. That’s before standard taxes on sales of 5-9%.
Medical marijuana will remain tax-free for patients with qualifying medical conditions that include post-traumatic stress. More than 6% of the state population participates in the medical cannabis program.
Indoor and outdoor venues for consuming cannabis are being licensed might resemble bars or lounges. Those “cannabis consumption areas” will be licensed by the state for a fee.
Pot consumption also will be allowed in designated hotel rooms, casinos, cigar bars and tobacco stores. In other public places, marijuana consumption will be treated much like alcohol or cigarettes.
At home, hobbyists also have the right to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal consumption and 12 per household.
Arizona, which borders New Mexico, legalized recreational marijuana in 2021.