New Mexico Marijuana Laws

Key Points

  • Recreational and medical marijuana are legal in New Mexico
  • The legal age to purchase marijuana in New Mexico is 21
  • It is legal to possess two ounces of marijuana. However, possession of more than 8 ounces is a felony
  • It is legal to grow up to six marijuana plants
  • New Mexico has penalties for persons who possess or cultivate marijuana above the legal limit

Is Marijuana Legal in New Mexico?

Yes, both medical marijuana and recreational marijuana are legal in New Mexico. New Mexicans may use marijuana for medical purposes if they have registered under the state's medical cannabis program, hold a medical marijuana card, and have obtained a prescription from licensed physicians. You cannot use marijuana for medical purposes if you are under the age of 18, except where an adult residing in New Mexico has been designated as a caregiver. The caregiver who may be a parent or legal guardian of the patient must be aged 21 or older.

The Cannabis Regulation Act makes the recreational use of marijuana legal in New Mexico for individuals above the age of 21. From June 29, 2021, residents of legal age can purchase, possess, consume, and give away to other adults up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of marijuana flower, 16 grams of concentrate, and 800 milligrams of edibles. The legal sale of adult-use cannabis began in New Mexico on April 1, 2022.

New Mexico Marijuana Laws in 2024

New Mexico's HB 2, also called the Cannabis Regulation Act, passed the legislature on March 31, 2021. It was signed during a special session called for that purpose by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. The bill signed on April 12, 2021, legalizes and regulates cannabis for adults aged 21 and older and allows for home cultivation of up to six plants, and creates a tiered industry licensure system. The law also creates a state Cannabis Control Division, which is overseen by the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Division. The Division will license 10 types of cannabis businesses: couriers, producers (growers), manufacturers, retailers, microbusinesses, cannabis consumption areas, vertically integrated establishments, and integrated microbusinesses.

HB 2 also allows for non-residential consumption sites to accommodate those without a permanent residence. You cannot smoke, vaporize, or ingest marijuana in public places in New Mexico. While in public, an adult may possess up to two ounces of cannabis, but it may only be smoked, vaporized, or ingested in a designated "cannabis consumption area."

HB 2 permits employers to implement, continue, and maintain certain basic drug-free workplaces rules and policies to ensure employee safety. The Act does not remove an employer's ability to prohibit or take detrimental employment action against an employee for impairment or possession of marijuana at work or during work hours.

Per HB 2, persons of legal age in New Mexico can purchase recreational marijuana and possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis, 16 grams of cannabis concentrates, and 800 milligrams of infused edibles. The legal retail sales for recreational cannabis began on the 1st April 2022. The state prohibits the advertisement of cannabis to persons under the age of 21, especially cannabis advertisements involving the use of cartoon characters or other imagery likely to appeal to children. Cannabis advertisements are also prohibited on billboards or other public media within 300 feet of a school, daycare center, or church.

Cannabis purchases in New Mexico will include a 12% excise tax on top of the regular 8% sales tax. Starting in 2025, the excise tax rate will go up 1% each year until it reaches 18% in 2030. Medical marijuana products are however exempt from tax.

Although local governments cannot entirely ban cannabis businesses, New Mexico allows municipalities to use their local zoning authority to limit the number of marijuana retailers or their distances from schools, daycares, or other cannabis businesses.

While HB 2 failed to provide explicit provisions for restorative social justice, a separate expungement bill was passed in the Senate, SB 2, to fill that void. SB 2 makes provision for automatic expungement to mitigate discrimination or unfair treatment against those who have been charged with crimes that would no longer be considered as offenses upon the legalization of cannabis.

Medical marijuana was legalized in New Mexico in 2007 through the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. The Act created a system governed by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) and directed the NMDOH to create, implement, and administer the statewide Medical Cannabis Program. The Act allows New Mexicans who have physicians' recommendations to use cannabis to treat one or more of the 28 qualifying medical conditions.

You can purchase medical marijuana from state-licensed dispensaries provided you show proof of legal age (18), a medical marijuana card, and a recommendation from a New Mexico-licensed physician. Patients below the legal age must designate a caregiver over the age of 21 to purchase medical cannabis on their behalf. New Mexico currently has over 120 licensed dispensaries. Patients can purchase up to 230 units or 8 ounces over a 90-day period.

Timeline of –°annabis Law in New Mexico

Recreational and medical marijuana are legal in New Mexico. Here are the changes over time leading to the legalization of marijuana for patients and adult use.

  • 1978: New Mexico enacts its first medical cannabis program. The Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act permitted the limited use of cannabis for cancer patients. Lynn Pierson was the first beneficiary of the bill.
  • 2007: Governor Bill Richardson signs Senate Bill 523 into law. The bill titled Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act permits persons with debilitating medical conditions to alleviate their symptoms by using marijuana.
  • 2019: The bill makes changes to the medical marijuana program. The bill expands the patient's eligibility for medical marijuana, including new qualifying medical conditions, employee protection, and revised penalties for medical marijuana use. The bill also creates protection for employees using medical marijuana. Governor Lujan Grisham also signed Senate Bill 323. The bill aims to decrease the penalties for the possession of marijuana and marijuana paraphernalia.
  • 2020: House Bill 160 came into effect. The act relates to regulating cannabis in New Mexico. It creates a cannabis tax act for recreational cannabis, establishes the Cannabis Control Division, establishes subsidies for the medical cannabis program, and creates the cannabis regulation fund.
  • 2021: The governor signed House Bill 2 into law, known as the Cannabis Regulation Act. The act legalizes the recreational use of marijuana for New Mexicans 21 and older. It also stipulates the expungement of criminal records for certain cannabis-related convictions.
  • 2022: The legal sale of up to two ounces of adult-use marijuana began

Federal Legalization of Weed in 2024

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act, passed in the House in 2022, aims to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances. It decriminalizes marijuana and removes criminal sanctions for certain marijuana-related offenses. Other aspects of the MORE Act include:

  • It imposes a tax on cannabis products produced in the United States, cannabis production facilities, cannabis products imported into the US, and export warehouses.
  • The Act replaces all references to marijuana with Cannabis.
  • It requires the timely publishing of data on cannabis business employees and owners.
  • The Act proposes the creation of a trust fund to support persons, businesses, and communities affected by drug wars.
  • It advocates for access to business loans and support services for licensed cannabis-related businesses.
  • It creates an avenue to expunge some federal cannabis offenses convictions.
  • It specifies that individuals with certain cannabis-related convictions have access to previously denied federal public benefits and protection under immigration laws.
  • The Act directs the Department of Education to examine the effect of state adult-use cannabis on schools and school-aged children.
  • It requires the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to implement new ways of finding a motorist marijuana impairment.
  • The Act proposes the study of the impact adult-use cannabis has in states where it is legal.
  • The MORE Act aims to understand the consequences of recreational cannabis in the workplace.

Can I Use Cannabis?

Cannabis is a psychoactive drug obtained from a group of three plants: Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, and Cannabis ruderalis. The history of the drug in the United States dates to early colonists who grew hemp for textiles and rope. Between the 19th and 20th centuries, marijuana was a common pharmaceutical drug not only in America but across the world. Its prohibition in modern times is traceable to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which was motivated by political and racial factors. The 1937 Act imposed tariffs on the sale, possession, or transfer of all hemp products, effectively criminalizing the plant.

In 1970, the prohibition on cannabis was lifted with the repeal of the Marijuana Tax Act, and cannabis was listed as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD. Following its prohibition and the more recent re-legalization, cannabis legislation has remained a common theme among politicians and state legislatures.

In New Mexico, residents are permitted to use cannabis recreationally provided the stipulated limits for use and possession are not exceeded. However, you must be aged 21 to use cannabis for recreational use. The state also permits medical cannabis use if you suffer from one or more of the qualifying medical conditions.

How The Legal Sale Of Cannabis In New Mexico Happens

Depending on the type of license obtained by a cannabis business, the business may be able to go from seed to sale in the state. For instance, businesses that obtained New Mexico Non-Profit Producers licenses (LNPP) are permitted to grow medical cannabis plants; extract, process and produce medical cannabis products; and dispense to registered patients. An LNPP license is a vertically integrated license.

Cannabis businesses with Adult-Use Producer Licenses can also sell cannabis products wholesale. Businesses with Adult-Use Retailer Licenses can also sell cannabis products to qualified patients, primary caregivers, reciprocal participants, or directly to consumers. New Mexico also permits businesses with Vertically Integrated Cannabis Establishment and Integrated Cannabis Microbusiness licensees to sell marijuana in the state.

You can purchase marijuana in various forms. These include waxes, Topicals, Tinctures, Sativa, Pre-rolls, Flower, Edibles, Drinks, Concentrates, CBD oils. Patients can also buy paraphernalia, provided they are for medical cannabis use. You can buy medical cannabis from licensed marijuana dispensaries across New Mexico. From April 1, 2022 New Mexicans can purchase cannabis legally for recreational use from licensed retailers and dispensaries.

Penalties for Marijuana-related crimes in New Mexico

Although medicinal and recreational marijuana have been legalized in New Mexico, there are penalties for exceeding the limits stipulated under state laws. The following penalties are prescribed for various marijuana-related crimes in New Mexico:

Possession In New Mexico

According to New Mexico marijuana possession laws, it is legal for persons 21 and above to possess up to two ounces of marijuana. It is considered a misdemeanor punishable by 1 year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000 to possess between 2 and 8 ounces of marijuana. Possession of more than 8 ounces of cannabis is considered a felony punishable by 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

New Mexico laws restrict the consumption of cannabis to private properties. It is illegal to consume marijuana in public unless in a designated consumption area. The penalty for the consumption of cannabis in undesignated premises is $50. Also, consuming cannabis on the premises of a licensed retail marijuana business is illegal unless the dispensary has a licensed cannabis consumption area.

Possession With Intent To Distribute In New Mexico

In New Mexico, the penalty for marijuana possession applies for possession with intent to distribute if no monetary compensation follows the exchange. However, if there is a financial exchange for marijuana, New Mexico marijuana distribution laws dictate that it is a felony charge, and the penalties for marijuana distribution apply.

Distribution In New Mexico

  • 100 pounds or less (first offense): This is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 18 months in jail.
  • 100 pounds or less (second offense): This is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 3 years in jail
  • 100 pounds or more (first offense): This offense is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 3 years in jail.
  • 100 pounds or more (second offense): This offense is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 and 9 years in jail.
  • To a minor (first offense): This offense is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 3 years in jail
  • To a minor offense (second offense): This offense is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 and 9 years in jail.
  • Within a drug-free school zone: This offense is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $15,000 and 18 years in jail.

It is unlawful for a person 18 years and older but not a licensed marijuana distributor to traffic cannabis products to a person under 21 per New Mexico marijuana trafficking laws. A first-time offender is guilty of a misdemeanor. The sentence is a jail term of less than one year with fines not exceeding $1,000. For a subsequent offense, the individual is guilty of a fourth-degree felony. The penalty is a jail sentence of 18 months and up to $5,000 in fines.

For a small amount of marijuana, a distribution offense may be treated as a possession-only offense if no payment is involved.

Cultivation In New Mexico

  • It is legal to grow up to six plants of marijuana in New Mexico.
  • More than 6 mature plants (first offense): This offense is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $10,000 and 9 years in jail.
  • More than 6 mature plants (second offense): This offense is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $15,000 and 18 years in jail.
  • Within a drug-free school zone: This offense is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $15,000 and 18 years in jail.

Marijuana Paraphernalia In New Mexico

Distribution of paraphernalia to a minor: This is considered a felony punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 18 months in jail.

Driving Under The Influence (DUI) Of Marijuana In New Mexico

It is illegal to drive under the influence (DUI) of marijuana, especially if it makes the individual incapable of driving safely. The following are the penalties for a marijuana DUI.

  • First Offense: The individual faces 90 days of jail time and fines not exceeding $500. In addition, the court may also sentence the offender to 24 hours of community service, participate in a drug screening program, attend a drug rehabilitation program, and pay additional fines of $300.
  • Second Offense: The penalty is incarceration for a maximum of 364 days and fines of up to $1,000. The courts may impose community service of not less than 96 consecutive hours but no more than 48 hours with fines of $500.
  • Third Offense: The offender faces a jail term of not less than 364 days and $1,000. The court can further sentence the individual to 30 - 96 hours of community service and additional fines of $750.
  • Fourth Offense: A fourth-time DUI offense is a fourth-degree felony. It attracts a jail sentence of 18 months. The offender cannot suspend or defer six months of this sentence.
  • Fifth Offense: A fourth-degree felony with a penalty of incarceration for two years. The offender cannot defer or suspend one year of this sentence.
  • Sixth Offense: It is a third-degree felony with a jail term of two and a half years. The felon cannot defer, suspend, or take under advisement 18 months of this sentence.
  • Seventh and Subsequent Offense: The penalty is imprisonment for three years. The court mandates that the offender cannot suspend two out of the three-year sentence.

Hash And Concentrates In New Mexico

  • Possession of more than 16 grams of extract, 800 mg infused edibles: This is a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and 1 year in jail.
  • Distributing or possessing with intent to distribute: This is a felony offense punishable by a maximum fine of $5,000 and 3 years in jail.

Possible Remedies For Defendants Of Violating New Mexico Marijuana Laws

Individuals can avoid the penalties associated with a marijuana charge by applying the following defenses:

  • The defendant asserts that the marijuana belongs to someone else.
  • The accused argues that the search leading to the discovery of the marijuana was without a warrant or the defendant's consent.
  • The defendant maintains that the marijuana was in their possession only because a law enforcement officer coerced them into possession.
  • Asserting that the drug is not marijuana and demanding the prosecution to prove it.
  • Cooperating with the prosecution and offering information in exchange for a plea deal. Most plea deals may result in reduced jail time to no jail time, community service, probation, or mandatory attendance of a drug rehabilitation treatment program.

People who commit and are convicted of a marijuana-related crime or purchase from the proceeds of an illegal sale of marijuana are subject to the confiscation of assets by law enforcement. Forfeited assets may include a building, motor vehicle, building, and cash.

New Mexico Marijuana Limitations

Additional limitations in New Mexico include:

  • An individual registered in the New Mexico medical cannabis program does not exclude the patient or caregiver from criminal prosecutions for activities not authorized in the Compassionate Use Act.
  • Making a false statement about enrollment in the medical marijuana program to avoid arrest for marijuana violations is a misdemeanor offense. It attracts a penalty of one year of incarceration in a county jail and fines of up to $1,000.
  • A cannabis establishment cannot request information or impose residency requirements from its customers except for age verification information.
  • Participating in the medical cannabis program does not exclude a patient from criminal prosecution for driving under the influence of marijuana.
  • The license for legal cannabis retailers, manufacturers, couriers, consumption areas, and producers is valid for one year from the date of licensing and is renewable annually.
  • A cannabis establishment cannot transfer or assign its license to another individual for business.
  • New Mexico laws permit up to five patients to grow medical marijuana in one designated licensed location. However, the location must contain not more than four mature female plants and 12 seedlings and male plants per person. The patients must destroy any cannabis above the combined total.

What is New Mexico's Cannabis History?

New Mexico first allowed the medical use of marijuana in 1978 through the Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Act. It was the first medical marijuana law passed by any state in the United States. The law permitted the use of cannabis through a research program approved by the Food and Drug Administration, using marijuana obtained from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. The bill was inspired by the efforts of Lynn Pierson, a cancer patient, who found relief from using cannabis. His efforts to convince New Mexico lawmakers to permit continued use of the drug was rewarded in February 1978 when the bill became law. However, federal approval on the bill only came after the death of Pierson in November 1978.

In 1999, Governor Gary Johnson endorsed the policy of drug legalization, claiming that the dangers of cannabis had been significantly exaggerated. Many high-ranking government officials condemned the governor's comments regarding legalization. At the time, he was the highest-ranking elected government official in the United States to endorse cannabis legalization.

In April 2007, Senate Bill 523 was signed into law by Governor Bill Richardson. SB 523 made New Mexico the 12th state to protect medical marijuana patients from arrest. According to the Department of Health regulations, patients may possess up to six ounces of usable marijuana and, after obtaining a separate permit, cultivate up to four mature plants and 12 seedlings. SB 523 was the first of its kind in the United States to direct the state to implement a system for the distribution of medical marijuana to qualifying patients. New Mexico issued its first license to a dispensary, or licensed producer, as they are more commonly known, in March 2009. Four more licenses were issued in November and 20 more in 2010.

Although SB 523's initial list of conditions was quite limited and did not include a general category for severe pain, the Department of Health (DOH) added to the list of conditions for which patients may qualify for the state's medical cannabis program. The bill initiated the creation of a "Medical Advisory Board" to consider petitions to add conditions to the list, and the DOH has added conditions to the list in certain situations but declined in others. New Mexico also recorded a first by explicitly recognizing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which affects many veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, as a qualifying condition. PTSD remains one of the most cited conditions for patients applying for medical marijuana cards in New Mexico. More recently, the qualifying conditions for medical cannabis use have been expanded to include severe chronic pain.

In 2018, the New Mexico Department of Health responded to concerns raised by patients in relation to supply shortages and increased the 450-plant grow limit for medical cannabis cultivators to 2,500. The application process for patients was also shortened in 2018, making it easier for patients to register in the state's medical cannabis program.

In 2019, via SB 406, New Mexico expanded patient rights by authorizing medical cannabis use for student patients in schools and provided exemptions from criminal and civil liability for all patients, caregivers, and employees. SB 406 established civil rights protections in the area of child custody and medical care to include organ transplants. It created employment protections preventing employers from taking detrimental actions against registered patients and required the Department of Health to create product safety and quality rules by the end of 2019.

SB 406 authorized reciprocity for out-of-state patients, the creation of a 3-year patient registration card for in-state patients, and permitted the DOH to establish rules guiding on-site consumption of cannabis on authorized facilities. New Mexico's reciprocity policy allows patients from other states with legal medical marijuana programs to purchase medical marijuana at a licensed dispensary in the state.

In March 2019, HB 356 was approved by the New Mexico House of Representatives. The bill proposed the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana and the establishment of a system for the distribution of cannabis through state-certified dispensaries. HB 356 stalled in the Senate despite passing in the House by a 36-34 vote. However, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that the issue will be added to the legislative agenda for the next year. The passage of HB 356 in the House was the first time either chamber of the New Mexico legislature voted to legalize recreational cannabis.

In April 2019, Governor Grisham signed SB 323 into law, effectively decriminalizing the possession of drug paraphernalia, and making New Mexico the first state to do so. SB 323 made first-time possession of up to 14 grams of cannabis a petty misdemeanor offense, punishable by a $50 fine. SB 323 went into effect on July 1, 2019, following passage by both chambers of the legislature.

In June 2019, the Governor formed the Cannabis Legalization Working Group to determine the best pathway towards legalizing recreational cannabis during the 2020 legislative session. Chaired by Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, the group consisted of more than 20 individuals from different backgrounds, including state lawmakers, law enforcement officials, cabinet secretaries, and medical cannabis executives. The group released a report of their findings and recommendations in October 2019.

The Cannabis Regulation Act, also called HB 2, was signed by Governor Lujan Grisham on April 12, 2021. The bill passed the House of Representatives 38-32 and the Senate 22-15 during a special legislative session called by the Governor. HB 2, along with SB 2, legalized the use of recreational cannabis in New Mexico. SB 2 will wipe certain marijuana convictions from public records. On the 1st of April 2022, the official sales of cannabis for adult-use began in the state.

What are Restrictions on Cannabis in New Mexico?

Both medical and recreational cannabis are legal in New Mexico. However, the following restrictions are placed on the possession and use of the drug in the state:

  • You must be aged 18 or older to use medical cannabis.
  • You must be aged 21 or older to use recreational cannabis.
  • Patients can only possess up to a 90-day supply of cannabis at once.
  • Patients are only allowed up to 230 units or 8 ounces over a 90-day period.
  • Recreational users can only possess or use up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of flower, 16 grams of concentrate, and 800 milligrams of marijuana edibles.
  • You can only use medical marijuana if you are registered under the state's Medical Cannabis Program, possess a medical marijuana card, and a certified physician's recommendation.
  • Cannabis cannot be consumed in public, except in state-designated "cannabis consumption areas."
  • Purchasing marijuana from places other than licensed dispensaries is illegal.
  • New Mexico residents cannot consume cannabis on federal properties in the state.
  • New Mexico residents cannot take cannabis across state lines, even if they are going to another cannabis-friendly state.
  • Driving under the influence of cannabis (DWI) is illegal.
  • Cannabis advertisements are also prohibited on billboards or other public media within 300 feet of a school, daycare center, or church
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New Mexico Marijuana Laws