Is marijuana legal in New Mexico?
Current legality status
Cannabis is legal for qualified patients with a licensed card.
Medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico. Recreational cannabis is illegal, although small quantities of up to half an ounce have been decriminalized.
According to SB 323 which passed in 2019, individuals found in possession of up to half an ounce of cannabis may be fined a maximum of $50. First-time offenders in possession of more than half an ounce and up to one ounce may be charged with a misdemeanor resulting in up to 15 days in prison and a maximum fine of $100. Second-time offenders in possession of the same amount may also be charged with a misdemeanor but penalized with up to a year in prison, and a maximum fine of $1000. Possession of larger quantities of marijuana results in longer prison terms and larger fines.
Individuals caught intending to distribute cannabis may be charged with a felony regardless of the amount being trafficked. Distribution of 100 pounds or less may be punishable by a minimum of 1.5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. The trafficking of larger quantities of cannabis is punishable by longer prison sentences and larger fines.
The question of recreational legalization was first raised in 1999 under the governorship of Gary. E. Johnson. A 2019 attempt to legalize recreational use, SB 577, was passed by the House of Representatives but then stalled. In January 2020, HB 160 or the Cannabis Regulation Act cleared its first committee hearing but was tabled before the legislature adjourned for its 2020 session, effectively killing it.
New Mexico medical marijuana laws
Medical marijuana became legal in New Mexico in 2007 under Senate Bill 523, also known as The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. The law was signed by Governor Bill Richardson on April 2 and went into effect on July 1, 2007. The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) is responsible for overseeing the medical cannabis program.
The NMDOH originally promulgated regulations in 2008 and revised those rules in 2010. According to current rules, approved New Mexico patients may possess up to eight ounces of flower or buds. Qualified patients may also designate a primary caregiver to manage their wellbeing and oversee their medical cannabis use. The state issues mandatory ID cards for both patients and caregivers.
Patients can additionally apply for a personal production license (PPL) to grow cannabis for personal use. If approved, either the patient or their primary caregiver can cultivate up to 16 plants, with a maximum of four mature flowering plants at any given time. Patients and primary caregivers are also permitted to transfer, but not sell, up to two ounces to other patients or primary caregivers. Those who do not cultivate their own cannabis can purchase medicine from Licensed Non-Profit Producers (LNPP). Patients also have the right to buy paraphernalia connected with the use of their medical cannabis.
New Mexico qualifying conditions for medical marijuana
Patients must have a qualifying condition to be eligible for a New Mexico registry ID card. A qualifying condition is an illness for which there is evidence that cannabis may offer benefits. The New Mexico Department of Health recognizes the following conditions:
- Anorexia (severe cases only)
- Autism spectrum disorder
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Lou Gehrig’s disease (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS)
- Crohn’s disease
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity
- Epilepsy or seizure disorders
- Friedreich’s ataxia
- Hepatitis C
- Huntington’s Disease
- Hospice care
- Inclusion body myositis
- Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis
- Intractable nausea/vomiting
- Lewy body dementia
- Multiple sclerosis
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Opioid use disorder
- Painful peripheral neuropathy
- Parkinson’s disease
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Severe chronic pain
- Spasmodic torticollis (cervical dystonia)
- Spinal muscular atrophy
- Ulcerative colitis
How to get a medical marijuana card in New Mexico
Only residents of New Mexico can apply for a medical marijuana registry ID card. Unlike many states which use online application processes, New Mexico requires that the application be submitted in hard copy format or mailed by post. The application process is free, and the form can be found here. Be aware that in New Mexico, caregivers must also fill out an application form.
Here are the steps for acquiring an ID card in New Mexico:
- Complete the patient information section of the form. The patient must ensure all information is correct, and the form is dated and signed.
- The medical provider must then complete and sign the medical provider section. This part of the form indicates the primary qualifying condition and includes the provider’s contact information and license number. The provider must also offer a one-page clinical note giving proof of diagnosis concerning the qualifying condition.
- The patient must include a clear copy of their current New Mexico driver’s license, or a New Mexico photo ID as proof of identity.
- Minors under the age of 18 must also attach a completed Medical Power of Attorney or Legal Guardianship paperwork to indicate legal authority. Minors must also provide a Caregiver Application with all required documents completed by a parent or guardian and a copy of the patient’s birth certificate.
- Submitted applications are reviewed both medically and administratively to ensure all requirements are met. The state has 30 days to review, approve, or deny. If approved, the card will be sent by mail and will be issued for three years.
Does New Mexico accept out of state medical cards?
Yes, New Mexico accepts out-of-state medical cards. Out-of-state cardholders became recognized as reciprocal participants under SB 406 in 2019. In 2020, SB 139 corrected an oversight in SB 406, which had enabled non-residents to gain registry cards but was originally intended to address reciprocity.
When does my New Mexico medical marijuana card expire?
From June 14, 2019, registry ID cards last for three years. Cards issued before June 14, 2019, will keep their current expiration date. Patients need to reapply thirty days before the expiration date. The application form for renewal is the same as for form for new applicants, and renewals are free.
Got your medical card? Find a dispensary in New Mexico
You can find a map of licensed New Mexico cannabis dispensaries here.
New Mexico marijuana growing laws
Qualified patients and their approved caregivers have the right to apply for a personal production license (PPL) to cultivate cannabis for therapeutic use. The Personal Production License application can be found here and costs $30 each year. Fees can be waived in instances of hardship in line with federal poverty guidelines.
If the application is approved, the patient or primary caregiver can have up to 16 plants, with a maximum of four flowering plants at any given time. No more than two licenses are permitted per location. Patients or primary caregivers are allowed to transfer up to two ounces of cannabis to other patients or primary caregivers.
Further details on the regulations surrounding home cultivation in New Mexico are found here.
Other New Mexico laws regulating cannabis
Cannabis law in New Mexico doesn’t start and end with legalization. New Mexico has a number of laws on its books concerning issues such as the public consumption of cannabis and DUI.
New Mexico public consumption laws
According to the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program Law Enforcement Fact Sheet, participation in the medical cannabis program does not protect patients from criminal prosecution or a civil penalty from the use of cannabis in the workplace, at a public park, recreation center, or any other public place.
New Mexico cannabis DUI laws
Even in medical states, qualifying patients are not permitted to drive under the influence of cannabis. Driving under the influence of any drug that impairs judgment is a violation of state law. Individuals are liable for damages or criminal prosecution if they operate a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis.
If you’re arrested for DUI, your license can be confiscated at the scene if you refuse to take a test and revoked for up to one year. This action is called an Implied Consent or an administrative revocation, and is separate from what takes place in court for DUI.
If you are convicted in court, your license can also be revoked in a separate court action. First DUI offenses can result in up to 90 days in prison and a $500 fine, with additional offenses punishable by longer prison terms and higher fines.
New Mexico cannabis testing regulations
A June 2020 update on medical cannabis regulations indicated that usable cannabis must be tested by certified laboratories and approved before sale or distribution. New Mexico state law outlines that batches must be tested for microbiological contaminants, mycotoxins, residual solvents, cannabinoid potency, heavy metals, pesticides, and moisture content. All cannabis testing laboratories must be licensed.
Common questions about marijuana legalization in New Mexico
Can medical patients grow in New Mexico?
Yes, medical marijuana patients can cultivate up to 16 plants, with a limit of four mature flowering plants at any one time.
Is New Mexico a medical state?
Yes, New Mexico allows medical marijuana for qualifying patients.
Can you get a medical card with a felony in New Mexico?
The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act does not preclude felons from accessing medical marijuana in New Mexico.
Can you get a medical card for anxiety in New Mexico?
No, anxiety is not included in the list of qualifying conditions.
Are minors 18 or younger able to access medical marijuana?
Yes, but they must have the permission of their guardian or caregiver.
Can new illnesses be added to the list of qualifying conditions?
Yes. These must be submitted through a petition to the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board.
Learn more about marijuana legalization in New Mexico
Further information about cannabis legalization in New Mexico can be sourced from these trustworthy sites:
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