Although cannabis is legal in New Mexico, some have found out the hard way that they can still be charged for crossing through internal Border Patrol checkpoints while possessing the drug. These checkpoints are scattered throughout the state, and they’ve made it tough for travelers in legal possession of pot as well as cannabis producers looking to transport their products for sale or testing. State officials have reportedly been in talks with the Border Patrol about allowing cannabis through the checkpoints, but so far the agency has refused to change its policies.
According to a report published by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in June, authorities found that 91 percent of drug seizures at interior border checkpoints between 2016 and 2020 involved U.S. citizens alone. Of those, 75 percent involved the seizure of cannabis and no other drugs. The report also found that 69 percent of those seizures were for amounts of less than an ounce of cannabis.
In New Mexico, the checkpoints have caused significant problems for legal cannabis producers. Border Patrol checkpoints are located on every major roadway between southern and northern New Mexico. Since the state requires that producers test their products at state-approved labs, and all of those labs are located in the northern half of the state, producers in the south are unable to comply with laws and are being forced out of the market.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office was reportedly in talks earlier this year with the Border Patrol about allowing companies to transport small amounts of cannabis through the checkpoints for testing purposes, but those talks have not produced any results.
As for consumers, there appear to be no plans to ease up on checkpoint restrictions regardless of state law. Since the checkpoints effectively cut off the southern half of the state, driving from Las Cruces to Albuquerque while possessing a small amount of cannabis could land a driver with a fine or even jail time.
It’s next to impossible to avoid the interior checkpoints while traveling, so being aware of their locations might just keep consumers out of trouble. Here are the checkpoints currently in service in New Mexico:
Two checkpoints are located along Interstate 10 to the west of Las Cruces and east of Deming.
One checkpoint is located northeast of White Sands on U.S. 70 before reaching Alamogordo.
Two checkpoints are located on Interstate 25. One can be found between Radium Springs and Rincon. The other is located just north of Elephant Butte.
The last checkpoint is located on N.M. 185 just south of Rincon.