New Mexico Bill to Legalize Marijuana Introduced

New Mexico Cannabis Now

While advocates do not expect the bill to pass this year, they’re still excited about the bill’s prospect for moving the needle forward on marijuana legalization in New Mexico.


New Mexico State Representative Javier Martinez introduced House Bill 312 to tax and regulate marijuana on Wednesday. The bill puts forth a vision of an industry that would support economic growth and begin to dismantle the policies of the war on drugs that have hit New Mexico hard.

Martinez tore into the current state of New Mexico marijuana policy in a statement that followed the bill’s introduction on Wednesday.

“The war on marijuana has been a miserable failure,’’ said Martinez. “We spend millions of dollars criminalizing people who use marijuana without seeing benefits to public health or safety. We need to legalize marijuana in New Mexico and stop the harm that disproportionally impacts those who are living in poverty and those who are Black, Native and Hispanic/Latino.”

Martinez went on to note marijuana convictions can have tragic long-term consequences for individuals and families.

“People may lose jobs or be unable to secure employment because of a criminal record. Students who incur a marijuana conviction can lose their student loans,” Martinez said.

“The punishment doesn’t fit the offense and New Mexicans agree we should remove penalties and instead tax and regulate marijuana,” said Martinez.

Polling data in recent years has shown a big shift in New Mexicans’ views on marijuana policy. A 2016 poll found that 60 percent of the state’s residents are now in favor of reforming the current laws.

The Drug Policy Alliance has been leading policy reform efforts in New Mexico for over a decade, including the push for medical marijuana and other harm reduction based practices. Their New Mexico State Director Emily Kaltenbach weighed in on today’s big news.

“New Mexico’s current marijuana laws are unfair, unpopular and wasteful. Thousands of individuals are arrested for marijuana possession in New Mexico every year,” said Kaltenbach. “It is a waste of law enforcement resources and taxpayer money when we could have a safe and legal industry creating thousands of sustainable new jobs. Legalizing small amounts of marijuana will also increase tax revenue and remove millions in sales from the criminal market, putting that money into the New Mexico economy.”

Kaltenbach believes if the bill were successful it would instantly create one of New Mexico’s most lucrative industries.

Reformers are calling the bill presented by Martinez, common sense measure that is long overdue. But they aren’t putting too much stock into this incarnation due to the short session. They are primarily excited about the potential to use the legislation as a tool for discussion and a way to move the conversation forward before the 60-day legislative session in 2019.

“We don’t expect the bill to pass this year, but introducing it is important,” said Kaltenbach. “We also hope to discuss the merits and challenges of marijuana legalization with legislators during the interim session as well as with their constituents. Feedback from these conversations will make for the best, most carefully thought out policy proposal for 2019.”

The Drug Policy Alliance also pointed to their recent report that found states are saving money and protecting the public by comprehensively regulating marijuana for adult use. Not to mention there have been, “huge drops in marijuana arrests and convictions, saving states millions of dollars and preventing the criminalization of thousands of people.”

Back in 2007 before the wave of pro-cannabis energy swept across America, then-Governor Bill Richardson signed a bill that made New Mexico the 12th state to legalize medical marijuana not long before hitting the presidential campaign trail. At the time Richardson told the Associated Press, “So what if it’s risky? It’s the right thing to do,” said Richardson, one of the candidates in the crowded 2008 field. “What we’re talking about is 160 people in deep pain. It only affects them.”

TELL US, are you excited about the future of cannabis in New Mexico?

Jimi Devine has been involved in cannabis reform since 2005 and has worked in the Berkeley cannabis industry since 2009 when he moved to California from Lynn, Massachusetts. Currently serving as Staff Writer here at Cannabis Now, you can also find his writings on cannabis products and policy in the San Francisco Chronicle, The Boston Globe, The Hill, The Chronicle of High Education, GreenState.com, Marijuana.com, 7x7 Magazine, and in Ed Rosenthal's most recent book This Bud's for You. Jimi has a BA in Journalism and Media Studies from Franklin Pierce University.

1 Comment

  1. Jason Barker

    January 31, 2018 at 5:41 pm

    First lets make it clear that Drug Policy Alliance is not a friend to the New Mexico medical cannabis community and their Santa Fe office is as crooked as they come.
    Legalization should be about Freedom and Good Health, not about how much we can tax a plant that has great Medical Value.
    And that is what this legislation is about – the tax money. The lawmakers behind this bill did not even attend any meetings held by doctors on the medical cannabis advisory board, despite advocates inviting them yet the write a bill about cannabis. The state needs to address the neglected medical cannabis program first, they don’t even have the infrastructure in place for adult use to happen.
    The State’s Medical Cannabis Program expansion is now “Medically Necessary”and the State needs to allow the Department of Health to open the application process, the State needs to increase the Licensed Non Profit Producer plant count, add more licensed non-profit producers, in conjunction with other measures to ensure safe access to medicine and to be compliant with the law. Currently there is ⅓ of a cannabis plant per one person in the medical cannabis program.
    During 2017 the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board meet twice, once in April and once more in November. There was not one state legislator in attendance for either one.
    Here are all the recommendations that Doctors made in 2017 to the State:
    doctors on the Department of Health Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, in 2017 at two Advisory Board Hearings, issued a number of recommendations for addressing the beneficial use of medical cannabis to the Secretary of Health, including:

    A. Advisory Board Doctors recommended the following fourteen (14) health conditions be added into the medical cannabis program; ADD/ADHD, Autism (ASD), Anxiety, Degenerative Neurological Disorder, Depression, Dystonia, Eczema / Psoriasis, Migraine Headache, Muscular Dystrophy, Post-Concussion Syndrome & TBI, All Types Seizures (such as: psychogenic neurological disorders; Motor Disorders / Motor Development Disorders), Sleep Disorders, Substance Abuse Disorder(s) (and Opioid Use Disorder);

    B. Advisory Board Doctors recommended the following four (4) medical treatments be added into the medical cannabis program; Pediatric Oncology & Medical Cannabis Use for Antiemetic in State Hospitals, Change/increase possession limit to 16 oz for Patients, Removal of Potency Limit on THC Content for Concentrates, and Patient Run Collectives;

    C. Advisory Board Doctors were denied by the Department of Health in Reviewing the following Nine (9) Medical Treatment Petitions in 2017 : (1)Medical Treatment; Medical Cannabis Program Research & Education Established, (2)Medical Treatment; (3)ADA language for Section 8 of LECUA; (4)Medical cannabis registry, (5)Medical Treatment; (6)Medical Cannabis 3 yr registry identification cards, (7)Medical Treatment; Recognition of nonresident medical cards, (8)Medical Treatment; Adequate Supply: LNPP Plant Count Increase, (9)Medical Treatment; Increase Medical Cannabis Advisory Board membership.

    The State can allow the Department and Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to exercise that important responsibility they have to all New Mexicans, by opening up and accepting producer applications under newly created rules that would have 3 different licensing options.
    The Medical Cannabis Program officials can create 3 different licensing options to include:
    A Licensed Producer to operate only as a grow facility for distribution to dispensaries.
    A Licensed Producer to operate only as a dispensary for distribution to patients.
    A LNPP to operate both as a grow facility and licensed for to operate dispensaries – with a limit of 3 store fronts per this type of license.
    In addition to reducing current and new licensing fees.
    Along with the approval of ALL the recommendations made by the Doctors on the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board in 2017, having the Department of Health to open the application process to add more licensed non-profit producers, and increasing the amount of medical cannabis plants a LNPPs and Patients can grow; could all be done to benefit all the residents in the State of New Mexico.
    In conjunction with the Possibility of opening the program up to allow for more participants statewide; current LECUA law states the following:
    “Section 3. DEFINITIONS.–As used in the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act:
    B. “debilitating medical condition” means: (1) cancer; (2) glaucoma; (3) multiple sclerosis; (4) damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity; (5) epilepsy; (6) positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome; (7) admitted into hospice care in accordance with rules promulgated by the department; or (8) any other medical condition, medical treatment or disease as approved by the department; ”
    WhereAs (Section 8) [the Law could state the following] “ any other chronic or persistent medical symptom that either substantially limits a person’s ability to conduct one or more of major life activities as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, or if not alleviated, may cause serious harm to the person’s safety, physical, or mental health.”
    And that would provide great harm reduction across the state along with improving the health of the State.
    And finally, Reciprocity -Recognition of nonresident medical cannabis cards, this would allow for increased tourism in the state as people could come and enjoy events like Balloon Fiesta and know they can still safely access medical cannabis.
    Today the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program has over 50,000 registered participants (most all of whom are voters) with 35 licensed non-profit producers or LNPP’s now growing 14,550 medical cannabis plants, as the program hits the end of its 10th year. The Medical Cannabis Program (MCP) was created in 2007, as the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, under chapter 210 Senate Bill 523. New Mexico’s medical cannabis history started in 1978, after public hearings the legislature enacted H.B. 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis…the first law.

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