New Mexico Governor Signs Bill to Legalise Recreational Marijuana
New Mexico has become the seventh state since November to legalise recreational marijuana after Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the legislation this week.
Recreational use of the drug will be legal within a matter of months, with sales beginning next year following the bill-signing ceremony on Monday, April 12.
Grisham, a Democrat, has identified marijuana reform as a way to create jobs and state revenue, and during the ceremony she noted that legalisation of cannabis could help expunge criminal records for thousands of residents and free from prison approximately 100 people who had been convicted for their marijuana use.
Commenting on the move, per ABC News, the governor said: ‘It is good for workers. It is good for entrepreneurs. It is good for consumers. And it brings about social justice in ways in which we have been talking about and advocating for, for decades.’
As a result of the new law people aged 21 and over in New Mexico will be allowed start growing marijuana at home from June 29, with the bill stating that residents can have up to six plants per person, or 12 per household. They will also legally be able to possess up to two ounces (56 grams) of cannabis outside their homes.
Recreational marijuana is set to go on sale at state-licensed dispensaries by April 1 next year, though Agency Superintendent Linda Trujillo has said licensed cannabis farmers can begin increasing their cultivation in the months running up to opening day in an effort to keep up with the demand that will follow.
Following the legalisation of marijuana, regulators will be able to put a cap on marijuana cultivation quantities for years to come and impose a per-plant state fee of up to $50 a year. In the bill, the government has mandated that products come in child-proof packaging.
Local governments will not be able to prohibit the establishment of marijuana businesses, though they have some control on the location, through zoning, as well as hours of operation.
The bill comes after New Mexico voters ousted opponents of legalisation from the state Senate in the 2020 Democratic primary, and after Grisham called a special legislative session to tackle the issue in March.
Supporters of the move drew on a legalization framework from state Rep. Javier Martínez, of Albuquerque, which provides automated procedures for expunging past marijuana convictions.
Martinez has expressed his hopes that legalisation efforts in states will encourage the federal government to follow suit.
New Mexico is expected to set out rules by the start of 2022 which will address product safety, minimum qualifications for a marijuana business licence and the required standards for vetting and training those 21 or older who can serve cannabis.
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