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New Mexico Has Now Officially Legalized Marijuana for Recreational Use

New Mexico joins New York, Virginia, and 14 other states in legalizing the drug for adult use

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed the cannabis bill the state’s legislature passed last month, making New Mexico the 17th state to legalize the drug for recreational use. Lujan Grisham had pushed for the passage of the Cannabis Regulation Act last month, and so putting her signature on it to make it official was only a formality. “This legislation is a major, major step forward for our state,” she wrote on Twitter. “Legalized adult-use cannabis is going to change the way we think about New Mexico for the better — our workforce, our economy, our future.

When the New Mexico state legislature voted to legalized cannabis late last month, they did so hours after Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a legalization bill the New York state legislature passed the previous night. The two states passing adult-use legislation in a span of just over 24 hours was a testament to how rapidly the legalization movement is progressing. “This is a significant victory for New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham wrote at the time, citing new jobs, new tax revenue, and the state’s “smart, equitable approach to low-level convictions.”

As was the case in New York, New Mexico’s legalization legislation includes a several measures focused on equity and restorative justice, including the automatic expungement of criminal records of those arrested for low-level offenses. Advocates are also pleased with how the bill requires the state to promote diversity in the marketplace, as well as with how it takes into account the state’s complex history. “There’s specific language that names Acequia, tribal, land grant, and other historic communities,” Emily Kaltenbach of Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico told Rolling Stone earlier this month.

“New Mexico is a state, like most other states, that has experienced disproportionate arrests for cannabis,” Kaltenbach added. “This bill is going to change lives in New Mexico, not only from the automatic expungement and re-sentencing components but to help create some equity in the industry and protection for users.”

The Cannabis Regulation Act allows for the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis for adults 21 and over, permits the home cultivation of up to six plants, and, unlike New York’s legislation, prevents local governments from opting out of retail sales. Legal retail sales are scheduled to begin in New Mexico on April 1st, 2022.

New York became the 15th state to legalize cannabis when Cuomo signed the state’s Marijuana Legislation and Taxation Act. It seemed like New Mexico would be the 16th, but Virginia went ahead and legalized before Lujan Grisham could get around to signing the bill.

Virginia had already passed legislation to legalize cannabis earlier this year, but the bill held that legalization wouldn’t take effect until 2024. Late last month, however, Governor Ralph Northam announced that he was proposing changes to the legislation that, if adopted by the state legislature, would make cannabis legal in the state by July 1st. Lawmakers voted last week to do just that, making Virginia the 16th state to legalize cannabis for recreational use. New Mexico became the 17th on Monday.

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