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New Mexico Governor, Legislature legalizes adult-use cannabis

Members of the House of Delegates expect it to pass.
Members of the House of Delegates expect it to pass.(Pixabay)
Updated: Apr. 13, 2021 at 4:05 PM CDT
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New Mexico (KCBD) - Recreational marijuana is now legal in New Mexico.

On Monday, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham formally enacted adult-use cannabis legislation in the Land of Enchantment. New Mexico is now the 17th state in the nation, and is only the fifth state to enact it through its state Legislature. The historic measure was approved by the state Legislature after the governor called them into a special session late last month.

“The legalization of adult-use cannabis paves the way for the creation of a new economic driver in our state with the promise of creating thousands of good paying jobs for years to come,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham. “We are going to increase consumer safety by creating a bona fide industry. We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed war on drugs. And we’re going to break new ground in an industry that may well transform New Mexico’s economic future for the better.”

Now, adults 21 and over can possess up to two ounces of cannabis and permits home cultivation of up to six plants.

However, it will be almost a year before recreational marijuana hits store shelves. Retail sales are scheduled to begin on April 1, 2022. The issuance of licenses to conduct commercial cannabis activity will begin no later than Jan. 1, 2022.

New Mexico is one of the country’s most impoverished states. The sales of adult-use recreational cannabis could amount to $318 million in the first year, creating over several years what could be more than 11,000 new jobs, according Dr. Kelly O’Donnell, independent economist and public finance expert. Preliminary estimates are that the excise tax will raise at least $20 million for the general fund in the first full fiscal year, with significant growth in subsequent years. Local governments will also benefit from the added revenue.

“As we look to rebound from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, entrepreneurs will benefit from this great opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises, the state and local governments will benefit from the added revenue and, importantly, workers will benefit from the chance to land new types of jobs and build careers,” said Gov. Lujan Grisham.

“Today, New Mexico seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a multi-million industry with a framework that’s right for our state and will benefit New Mexicans for generations to come,” said Rep. Javier Martínez. “Not only are we launching a burgeoning industry that will strengthen our economy, create jobs and generate tax dollars, but we are doing so in an equitable way that will curb the illicit market and undo some damage of the failed war on drugs.”

Surrounded by legislative sponsors and advocates outside the state Capitol, Gov. Lujan Grisham, who has advocated for legalization since taking office, signed legislation that will authorize the expungement old low-level cannabis convictions from the record of what is expected to be tens of thousands of New Mexicans and make possible the potential early release of low-level convicted cannabis offenders who are currently incarcerated.

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