Consequences of Getting a Medical Card in New Mexico

  1. New Mexico Cannabis
  2. New Mexico Medical Marijuana Card
  3. Consequences of Having a MMJ Card in New Mexico

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Benefits of Having a Medical Marijuana Card in New Mexico

Compared to recreational marijuana users, medical marijuana cardholders in New Mexico enjoy the following privileges:

Legal Protection

Registered medical marijuana patients in New Mexico enjoy certain legal protections under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. Section 26-2B-4 of this Act exempts medical marijuana cardholders in the state from criminal and civil penalties for the medical use of marijuana. In other words, cannabis patients are not subject to arrest, penalty, or prosecution in any way for possessing or purchasing marijuana if the quantity does not exceed the legally approved limit. This legal protection also applies to reciprocal participants. New Mexico medical marijuana cardholders aged 21 years or older are not subject to arrest or prosecution for cultivating no more than six mature marijuana plants and six seedlings for personal use.

The Compassionate Use Act grants patients or caregivers full legal protections if they are in possession of their registry identification cards (medical cannabis cards). Hence, medical cannabis cardholders in New Mexico are advised always to carry their cards around, especially when in possession of medical cannabis products. Anyone under 21 years old convicted of possessing marijuana without a medical cannabis card in New Mexico risks being enrolled in a drug education program, community service, and/or jail term, depending on the amount of cannabis involved. If driving with marijuana products in a vehicle, keep the products in the car trunk or locked glove box where they cannot easily be seen to avoid arrest by law enforcement.

Lower Prices

In New Mexico, the prices of medical cannabis products are generally lower than those sold to individuals who do not have medical marijuana cards. While medical marijuana purchases are not subject to cannabis excise tax, the state has imposed a 12% excise tax on recreational marijuana sales. Hence, recreational marijuana consumers in New Mexico are bound to pay more for cannabis products than medical marijuana cardholders. The excise tax imposed on recreational marijuana sales in the state is scheduled to rise gradually, and by July 1, 2030, it will have increased to 18%.

Higher Purchase and/or Possession Limits

Having a New Mexico medical marijuana card increases a person's cannabis purchase limit. Under state law, recreational weed consumers may only purchase and possess up to 2 ounces of usable cannabis per time. On the other hand, medical patients may possess and purchase up to 15 ounces of usable marijuana within any 90-day period. Furthermore, patients 21 years or older can purchase recreational cannabis products, although within the approved adult-use purchase limits, once they reach 15 ounces in those 90 days.

Employment Protection

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act protects employees who are New Mexico medical marijuana cardholders from employment discrimination. As specified in Section 26-2B-9 of this Act, an employer must not take adverse employment action against an employee or a job applicant based on their use of medical cannabis. However, this provision does not apply if a failure to make such adverse employment decisions will cause the employer to lose licensing-related benefits under federal law or to lose money. Similarly, employment protection enjoyed by medical cannabis patients in New Mexico does not limit an employer's right to prohibit an employee's use or possession of medical marijuana on workplace premises or during work hours. Employers can take adverse employment actions against employees who violate workplace drug policies, for instance, becoming intoxicated with cannabis while at work.

Passed into law in 2019, SB 406 expanded employment protections for medical cannabis users in New Mexico. Under state law, job applicants who use medical cannabis cannot be discriminated against during pre-employment drug screening. Unless an employee's job falls under a safety-sensitive position, they cannot be subjected to work-related punishments for testing positive for medical marijuana. However, such an employee must have a medical cannabis card and a valid prescription if they test positive for THC. Due to the federal ban on cannabis, registered medical cannabis patients in New Mexico cannot work in federal agencies or offices in the state.

Access for Minors

Under the state's medical cannabis law, minors under the age of 18 may register in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program and legally access medical marijuana. However, they must designate caregivers who will assist them with marijuana purchases. In contrast, a person must be at least 21 years old to access recreational cannabis in New Mexico legally.

Reciprocity

Registered medical marijuana patients in New Mexico can medicate in many other states by presenting their registry identification cards. However, depending on the state, patients may have to sign some paperwork before they can purchase or possess medical cannabis products in those states. States like Hawaii, Washington DC, Michigan, Utah, Nevada, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire accept New Mexico medical marijuana cards.

Downsides of Getting a Medical Marijuana Card in New Mexico

Despite its numerous benefits, having a New Mexico medical marijuana card also has some downsides, and they include the following:

Firearm Prohibition

While no law particularly bans medical marijuana cardholders from owning or possessing firearms in New Mexico, having a registry identification card prohibits a person from possessing a gun, per federal law. The Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) forbids the possession of firearms and ammunition by unlawful users of controlled substances, including marijuana, even if being used for medicinal purposes. Under federal law, using marijuana and owning a gun is a felony punishable by severe penalties. Unfortunately, no New Mexico law protects medical marijuana cardholders from federal prosecution for gun possession.

Driving Restrictions

Unlike alcohol with a legal limit for blood alcohol while driving in New Mexico, the state has no legal driving limit for THC in the blood. The state has strict driving while impaired (DWI) laws and enforcement strategies for anyone who is caught driving impaired by marijuana or other drugs. Being a registered medical marijuana patient in New Mexico is not a license to use cannabis while driving. In addition, it is illegal to own a Commercial Driver's License (CDL) and be a marijuana user under federal law. Hence, a New Mexico registry identification cardholder cannot apply for a CDL in the state.

Although law enforcement will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a patient was driving while impaired by cannabis, the legal consequences are severe if convicted. For instance, a first DWI offense in New Mexico can result in a $500 fine and/or a 90-day jail sentence. The severity of these penalties is higher for each additional violation.

Annual Renewal

All New Mexico registry identification cards issued by the state's Department of Health beginning June 16, 2023, now expire after 2 years of issuance as against 3 years previously. Despite not being a card that requires annual renewal, renewing a New Mexico medical marijuana card means having to spend some dollars and comes with certain troubles. For instance, a patient must visit their medical provider, who will recertify them for medical cannabis use. While it may be less stressful for patients to see their medical providers via telemedicine services for recertification, those consulting their physicians in person are usually strained.

Except for replacement cards, which cost $50, the New Mexico Department of Health issues medical marijuana cards free of charge (including renewals). However, cardholders will have to pay their medical providers consultation fees for recertifying them for medical cannabis use. Depending on the healthcare provider, this fee may range from $100 to $250.

Federal Prohibitions

Federal law prohibits using or possessing marijuana on federal property. This includes federally subsidized housing and federal offices in New Mexico. Hence, having a medical marijuana card in the state technically bars a person from applying for federal employment, and a federal employee who gets a New Mexico medical cannabis card may lose their appointment. Similarly, those residing in federally assisted housing in the state cannot consume, cultivate, or possess marijuana in such homes.

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