In a groundbreaking move in June 2021, recreational cannabis became legal in New Mexico.
Most people in the state are probably aware of that by now – but do you know the rules for recreational cannabis usage? And are you aware of what you must do if you are after a cannabis business license and want to grow or sell it?
It is important to be across these rules because you can still end up in legal hot water if you transgress cannabis usage or business laws in New Mexico.
Cannabis Regulation Act made recreational cannabis legal
The Cannabis Regulation Act, signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 12, 2021, made recreational cannabis legal in New Mexico.
Personal usage became legal for adults over the age of 21 as of June 29. However, readers should note that the retail sales of cannabis have not yet legally started.
Sales are due to start no later than April 1, 2022. If you plan to become a retailer, producer, microbusiness owner, or open another cannabis-related business, you will need to obtain a license.
New requirements for securing licenses
Licenses for the retail sale of cannabis will require an application to the Cannabis Control Division (CCD), a division of the Regulation and Licensing Department. This is the division tasked with overseeing cannabis regulation in New Mexico.
Licenses will also be required for the following production activities:
- Cannabis cultivation
- Cannabis cultivation microbusinesses
- Medical cannabis cultivation
In fact, the division will license 10 types of cannabis businesses: couriers, producers (growers), manufacturers, retailers, microbusinesses, cannabis consumption areas, vertically integrated establishments, and integrated microbusinesses.
The rules for cannabis retail and producer licenses are not yet finalized.
However, under proposed rules released in June 2021, there will be three producer licenses ranging from 201 plants up to 4,500. The previous limit for producers of medical cannabis was 1,750 plants.
The following license regulations have also been proposed:
- Growers with more than 3,500 mature plants will pay an annual per-plant fee of $22. Those with less than 3,500 mature plants will pay $18.
- Licensees will be able to increase their counts in 500-plant increments through an annual application process.
- Applicants must prove that they have valid water rights.
The proposed rules for cannabis retailers include a provision that stores must attempt to sell one-quarter of all their products to medical cannabis patients or caregivers. This is proposed to prevent a medical shortage of cannabis.
Retailers will not be allowed to operate within 300 feet of schools or day-care centers and business license applicants will need to explain any past criminal convictions in the application process.
Under current guidelines, you should be able to apply for a cannabis production or retail license no later than September 2021. Retail sales should start around April 2022.
What is the legal possession amount for cannabis?
Under the new law, it is legal for adults to possess, purchase, and give other adults up to two ounces of cannabis outside the home.
Inside your home, you can possess more than two ounces as long as it is not “visible from a public place”. This is to deter unlicensed selling of the crop and to encourage discretion amongst users of cannabis.
While the possession of personal usage amounts has been legalized, you can still be charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense if you are caught with:
- More than two but less than eight ounces of cannabis
- 16 grams of cannabis extract
- More than 800 milligrams of edible cannabis in public
Smoking cannabis in public places is still prohibited under the new laws until New Mexico introduces its planned licenses for cannabis consumption areas. A $50 civil penalty is proposed for anyone caught doing this.
Anyone under the age of 21 found in possession of cannabis will be liable for a mandatory four-hour educational program or four hours of community service.
While the new laws prohibit law enforcement from stopping or detaining people based purely on the smell of cannabis, it does not apply if an officer has reasonable cause to believe the individual is operating a vehicle under the influence.
Growing cannabis under the new laws
Growing cannabis at home is legal under the new law – within limits and with stiff criminal penalties for overstepping these limits.
It is legal to grow up to 12 mature plants without a permit, as long as you do not sell the cannabis or operate as a business. It is also legal to create cannabis-infused foods at home.
If you are caught growing more than 12 plants or selling without a cannabis business license, you could be charged with a fourth-degree penalty.
The cannabis laws are in their infancy in New Mexico and are set to evolve rapidly in the coming years. If you want to stay up to date with cannabis legislation, watch this space.
If you need help with licensing or any other legal requirement for a cannabis-based business, talk to a knowledgeable cannabis business lawyer at Legal Solutions of New Mexico at (505) 445-4444.