Saturday, September 30, 2023

Governor Signs Cannabis Legislation

Criminal Records of Minor Cannabis Charges Will Also Be Expunged


New Mexico has finally joined the rank of states that have signed adult-use cannabis legalization into law. Today, legislation legalizing and regulating the use, production, and sale of cannabis was signed into law by Governor Lujan Grisham. The governor also signed a complementary bill expunging the criminal records of those with minor cannabis charges.  

House Bill 2, The Cannabis Regulation Act, sponsored by Reps. Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque)Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe), Deborah Armstrong (D-Albuquerque)Senator Katy Duhigg (D-Albuquerque), and Senate Majority Whip Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque), passed during the 36-hour special session. The bill creates a tightly regulated system for the use, production, and sale of cannabis and cannabis products for adults 21 years and older in New Mexico. The bill establishes a 12 percent excise tax on all cannabis sales and sets guidelines prioritizing diversity and equal opportunity in the licensing process.  

The corresponding Senate Bill 2, Expungement of Certain Criminal Records, was sponsored by Representatives Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) and Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque)Senate Majority Whip Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque), and Senators Katy Duhigg (D-Albuquerque), and Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque). The bill expunges criminal records for acts no longer illegal under the Cannabis Regulation Act and supports reentry into employment for those with non-violent criminal records. 

“Today, New Mexico seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a multi-million industry with a framework that’s right for our state and will benefit New Mexicans for generations to come,” said Rep. Martínez, lead sponsor of HB2 and co-sponsor of SB2. “Not only are we launching a burgeoning industry that will strengthen our economy, create jobs and generate tax dollars, but we are doing so in an equitable way that will curb the illicit market and undo some damage of the failed War on Drugs.”  

“For decades, our communities of color have been discriminated against for minor cannabis offenses, so we must ensure that those who would not be arrested today do not continue to be incarcerated or held back by criminal records for acts that are no longer crimes,” said Rep. Romero sponsor of both HB2 and SB2. “By ensuring equity and social justice in our cannabis legalization, we are saying ‘enough’ to the devastating ‘War on Drugs’ that overincarcerated and over penalized thousands of New Mexicans.” 

“The legalization of cannabis is ultimately a public health measure. When we regulate the industry, we can control the product quality, protect consumers, and bring down the dangerous illicit market in our state,” said HB2 sponsor Rep. Armstrong. “This law includes dozens of necessary safeguards to protect our youth, ensure adequate supply for the medical program, and will bring in additional funds for programs, services, and research to support the health and wellbeing of New Mexicans.” 

New Mexico will be the 18th state, along with Washington D.C., to legalize adult-use cannabis. Several other states are expected to pass legalization bills this year. The cannabis industry in New Mexico is projected to bring in $318 million in sales and $28.6 million in tax revenue in the first year alone, along with creating more than 11,000 new jobs.  

The Cannabis Regulation Act will regulate the sales of cannabis beginning no later than April 2022. New Mexico cannabis companies will be able to begin sales as early as September of this year. Under SB 2, reviews of currently incarcerated individuals must be done within 30 days of the effective bill date, and prior conviction reviews must happen by Jan. 1, 2022. 


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