New Mexico: House Lawmakers Approve Adult Use Marijuana Legalization Proposal

Members of the New Mexico House of Representatives on Friday night approved House Bill 12, to legalize and regulate the use, possession, cultivation, and retail sale of marijuana for adults.

The measure, approved by a 39 to 31 vote, would allow adults to purchase at least two ounces of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six mature plants for personal use. Those who possess more than two ounces must lock it in their residence. Under HB 12, those convicted of an offense involving up to two ounces of marijuana possession would be eligible for automatic expungement, and those currently incarcerated for these offenses would be eligible for dismissal.

House Bill 12 will now be transmitted to the Senate for further consideration.

House Bill 12, one of five competing adult use legalization measures, is favored by advocates because of the additional social equity and community reinvestment provisions. The Friday House vote came one day before the Senate Tax, Business & Transportation Committee considered three additional measures to legalize and regulate marijuana retail sales.

During the Saturday Senate hearing, lawmakers discussed differences and similarities between the competing measures, and indicated the need to quickly reconcile these differences and settle on a compromise before time runs out at the end of the month.

New Mexico has a short legislative session, with the legislature scheduled to adjourn for the year on March 20, 2021.

In both 2019 and 2020, New Mexico lawmakers advanced marijuana legalization proposals forward, but they ultimately stalled after crossing over to the opposing chamber. Adult use legalization has also been a priority for Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham since she was elected to office in 2018, campaigning on the issue, and then subsequently appointing a working group in 2019 which issued recommendations to lawmakers on how best to enact regulations for adult use marijuana in the state.

After legalization legislation stalled in 2019, separate legislation was enacted to decriminalize the possession of personal use amounts of cannabis.

Statewide polling data shows that 72 percent of New Mexico voters said they favor a proposal to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis sales.

If you live in New Mexico, send a message to your lawmakers in support of adult use legalization efforts.

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