On April 12, Governor Michell Lujan Grisham signed into law Special Session House Bill 2 enacted during the 2 day Special Session making New Mexico the 18 state to legalized marijuana. The law will go into effect in April 2022. Until then licensing and regulations will be formulated. House Bill 2 is a 178-page bill. It creates a Cannabis Control Division under the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department that will license, regulate and tax the new industry.
A link to the entire bill is here:
KRQE NEWS 13 REPORT
On April 13, KRQE News 13 posted a detailed summation story written by reporter Curtis Segarra on its web page. The report is entitled “Recreational Marijuana: What you need to know in 10 numbers”.
Following is the report along with the link:
The legal age to purchase, possess, and use cannabis under the new law is 21. Additionally, to work in the emerging cannabis industry, you must be 21 or older. But lawmakers are aware that younger adults may try to acquire and use marijuana. So, the bill includes guidelines for restricting access to children and underage adults.
The maximum amount of cannabis you can purchase at one time is two ounces (57 grams) of cannabis, 16 grams of extract, and 800 milligrams (mg) of edible cannabis, according to the law. How many joints can you get out of two ounces? It depends on who you ask, but a 2010 study estimated the average joint had about 0.66 grams of marijuana, meaning two ounces could make about 80 joints.
These same purchase limits act as the maximum amount you can possess outside your home. The bill does let you keep more than that inside your home, but it has to be hidden from public view. Violating the rules can bring either a misdemeanor or fourth-degree felony charge, depending on how much cannabis you possess over the legal limit.
Workplaces are still allowed to prohibit cannabis use and have the right to maintain a zero-tolerance policy in the workplace. Additionally, private property owners can prohibit you from smoking on their property.
The law requires that the “Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee” comes into existence no later than September 1, 2021. This committee will help create rules related to cannabis. The committee is also supposed to promote “economic and cultural diversity,” meaning that lawmakers want to ensure that all communities across New Mexico have a chance to participate in the growing cannabis industry.
“We are ensuring that people from all walks of life, without having to have access to a lot of capital, can enter this new industry,” Rep. Javier Martínez said during a March 31 senate meeting. Martínez helped introduce the bill.
The law outlines 12 key parts of the cannabis supply chain that will need a permit to conduct business. They are: 1. Cannabis consumption areas (think: smoking lounges); 2. Couriers and transporters; 3. Manufacturers; 4. Microbusinesses; 5. Producers (growers or wholesalers); 6. Research Labs; 7. Retailers; 8. Servers; 9. Testing labs; 10. Cannabis training and education programs; 11. Cannabis microbusinesses with multiple roles (such as growing and serving); 12. Vertically integrated businesses (with multiple roles, such as manufacture, transport, and retail).
6 Plants FOR HOME
Beginning 90 days after the Governor signs the bill, adults age 21 and over can keep up to six mature and six immature plants in their home, according to the law. This is a per-person maximum. So if you live with other people, you can have more plants. But the maximum number of plants allowed in a home — no matter how many people live there — is 12 mature plants. Violate that and you can be slapped with a fourth degree felony. And yes, if you move, you can take your plants with you.
$50 CIVIL PENALTY
You can’t smoke marijuana in public, except in licensed cannabis consumption areas. A first offense will likely set you back $50 as a civil penalty. But if you’re under 18 and caught smoking marijuana illegally, you aren’t required to pay a fine, according to the law.
4 Hours OF DRUG EDUCATION
Individuals under the age of 18 caught intentionally producing cannabis are subject to either a 4-hour drug education and legal rights program or four hours of community service. Adults over 18 but under 21 who grow marijuana plants may be subject to anywhere from a $50 fine up to a fourth degree felony, depending on how many plants they produce.
10%-25% of Cultivation
Lawmakers included measures to prevent the growing recreational industry from causing a shortage of medical marijuana. The law allows the cannabis control division of the NM Regulation & Licensing Department to force all cannabis establishments to reserve at least 10% of their cannabis for sale to medical users if necessary. But the bill states that the cannabis control division can’t require businesses to keep more than 25% of their stock as medical-only reserves
Under the law, cannabis retailers are subject to a “cannabis excise tax” that starts at 12% and will eventually increase to 18% by 2030. This is applied to the price paid for the product. But this tax doesn’t apply to medical marijuana sales.”
The link to the KRQE News report is here:
A link to a related KOAT-TV news article is here:
Other major highlights of the new law include:
People who have been convicted of possessing it for personal use will have their criminal record expunged.
Cannabis establishments could also offer on-site consumption in certain circumstances.
Households would be permitted to grow up to 12 mature plants for personal use.
Local jurisdictions, city and counties, cannot opt out of commercial sales, but can establish restrictions on operating hours and locations. The legislation give local governments some authority to determine where cannabis dispensaries can be located.
The state’s counties will not have the authority to be able to prohibit cannabis sales nor prohibit the licensing of stores. In other words, local zoning rules would have been able to be used to control the number of stores in an area where they the stores could be located. This is identical to zoning restrictions placed on retail stores that sell pornography.
The sponsors of the legislation are Rep. Javier Martinez, Rep. Andrea Romero, Rep. Debbie Armstrong, Sen. Linda Lopez, Sen. Katy Duhigg and Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino.
CANNABIS CONTROL DIVISION
On April 13, KRQE News 13 published a seperate report on the Cannabis Control Division of New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department. The report was written by reporter Curtis Segarra and posted on the KRQE web page. Following is an edited version of the article with the link at the end:
“The Cannabis Control Division falls under the New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department and will be in charge of regulating and licensing cannabis across the state.
The divisions website lays out the timeline and fees New Mexicans can expect if they wish to apply for cannabis-related permits. These range from $35 cannabis server permits up to $7,500-per-year licenses for cannabis establishments that hope to engage in multiple roles, such as growing, transporting, and selling.
Link to Cannabis Control Division website is here:
Link to timeline is here:
The website is now live, but the Cannabis Control Division is not fully operational yet.
[Even though] … Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham [ signed the act on April 12] … it won’t go into effect until June 29, according to the Regulation and Licensing Department. After that date, it’s not clear when the division will begin accepting cannabis license applications.
The Cannabis Regulation Act requires that the Cannabis Control Division begins processing permits for cannabis producers, microbusinesses, and licensed medical cannabis producers no later than September 1, 2021.
New Mexicans interested in obtaining a cannabis server permit may have to wait even longer. The Cannabis Control Division has until January of 2022 to issue server permits and begin accepting all application types.
Permit or License Type
Cannabis Server, Up to $35 for 3-year permit fee for First Permit
Plant Cultivation, Up to $50 per plant
(does not apply to microbusinesses) Up to $1,000 per year for First Permit
Cannabis Producer Microbusiness, $1,500 per year, for first permit
Cannabis Courier, Up to $2,500 per year, for first permit
Cannabis Consumption Area, Up to $2,500 per year for first permit
Integrated Cannabis Microbusiness, $2,500 per year for first permit
Cannabis Manufacturer or Producer, $2,500 per year for first permit
Cannabis Research Lab, $2,500 per year for first permit
Cannabis Retailer, $2,500 per year for first permit
Cannabis Testing Lab, $2,500 per year for first permit
Vertically Integrated Cannabis Establishment, $7,500 per year for first permit
Cannabis Training and Education Program, fees to be announced.”
EXPUNGEMENT OF MARIJUANA CONVICTIONS
The Governor also signed Special Session Senate Bill 2 that will wipe certain cannabis-related convictions off New Mexicans’ criminal records. The Senate voted 23-13 along party lines to pass the legislation with majority Democrats voting in favor and Republican’s casting “no” votes. Senate Bill 2 also cleared the House on a 41-28 vote.
The expungement of records legislation is a companion measure to separate legislation that would legalize possession of up to 2 ounces of cannabis outside the home. The approved legislation orders the expungement of criminal records for marijuana-related offenses that would fall under the separately proposed cannabis legalization law. It also authorizes the release of New Mexicans jailed for minor cannabis-related offenses, though it is unclear exactly how many inmates might be freed.
The burden for reviewing criminal records for expungement eligibility will fall largely under the Department of Public Safety and the state’s court system. Department of Corrections spokesman Eric Harrison said that just 50 inmates at state prisons were incarcerated on charges that included marijuana possession, but none of them was in custody solely because of pot possession.
NEW INDUSTRY BENEFTING ECONOMY
New Mexico already has a marijuana decriminalization law on its books. Last year, Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law a bill that made possession of up to a half-ounce of cannabis a civil offense punishable with a $50 fine. The governor and other supporters say legalization is still necessary, arguing it would generate tax dollars that could be used on public safety programs.
There are 17 other states that have now legalized recreational marijuana. The states of Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota approved cannabis legalization measures in the November 3 general Presidential election. On March 31, the state of New York legalized recreational cannabis. Mississippi has approved the creation of a medical marijuana program.
The Arizona passage gave urgency to the passing similar legislation in New Mexico to take advantage of the emerging market and demand. Governor Lujan Grisham and other supporters say legalization is still necessary, arguing it would generate tax dollars that could be used on public safety programs.
Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of Ultra Health, New Mexico’s largest medical marijuana company told lawmakers during legislative committee hearings that they need to think broadly about the future of New Mexico’s marijuana industry. According to Rodriquez, New Mexico will be “a production juggernaut” and a magnet for tourists and cannabis patients from Texas, despite federal prohibitions against transporting cannabis across state lines.
Advocates of recreational legalization argue it will generate at least 13,000 jobs and millions of dollars for the economy. Rodriguez, also told lawmakers that legalizing recreational marijuana will generate up to $800 million a year, a $200 million increase from the last years estimate of $600 million. Rodriguez had this to say:
“It’s going to change New Mexico and ways we can’t imagine. … I think we will be a powerhouse, not only within the state, but we have the potential of being a powerhouse not only in this country, but you’d be surprised, we have the ability to also compete internationally.”
For the last five years, a firm known as “SeedCrest” has been developing the software and tools to help educate people on the intricacies of the medical cannabis industry. They have what’s called Core Compliance Training with a developed core curriculum. The training covers topics like policy, ethics, and HIPPA, and will soon expand past the medical industry into recreational use.
SeedCrest has been working with the business community on what to expect now that adult use will be legal. It offers a course called “A Guide to Preparing Employers for Legalization in New Mexico.” One of the biggest concerns about the new law is figuring out how to ensure a drug-free workplace.
SeedCrest CEO and founder Shanon Jaramillo had this to say:
“We know that cannabis metabolizes in our fat cells and so it really, if we could test through saliva and blood— that is the best way. Real-time testing has not come to the surface yet. It’s going to be an issue that the Department of Public Safety will have to tackle through training and guidance, so this is where education about the plant and how it affects the mind and body comes in the most. Because if we can understand that, we can create non-discriminatory practices around that and still mitigate the risks.”
Links to source material quoted are here:
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
The United States “war on drugs” dates all the way back to President Richard Nixon in the 1970’s and billions spent on law enforcement, many imprisoned and lives taken. Truth is, the war aon drugs when it comes to marijuana has been a total failure. With state after state legalizing recreational use of marijuana, it is long overdue for the federal government to remove it as a schedule one drug and legalize its use on a national level.
After many years of debate and past efforts to legalize recreational marijuana, its passage was long overdue in New Mexico. The enacted legislation was well thought out and takes the approach of legalize, regulate and tax.
The sale of medical cannabis has been an emerging industry for at least 6 years in New Mexico. There is little doubt that recreational cannabus will add to the industry
Links to related stories are here: