The legal age to purchase, possess, and use cannabis under the new law is 21. Additionally, to work in the emerging cannabis industry, you must be 21 or older. But lawmakers are aware that younger adults may try to acquire and use marijuana. So, the bill includes guidelines for restricting access to children and underage adults.
The maximum amount of cannabis you can purchase at one time is two ounces (57 grams) of cannabis, 16 grams of extract, and 800 milligrams (mg) of edible cannabis, according to the law. How many joints can you get out of two ounces? It depends on who you ask, but a 2010 study estimated the average joint had about 0.66 grams of marijuana, meaning two ounces could make about 80 joints.
These same purchase limits act as the maximum amount you can possess outside your home. The bill does let you keep more than that inside your home, but it has to be hidden from public view. Violating the rules can bring either a misdemeanor or fourth-degree felony charge, depending on how much cannabis you possess over the legal limit.
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Workplaces are still allowed to prohibit cannabis use and have the right to maintain a zero-tolerance policy in the workplace. Additionally, private property owners can prohibit you from smoking on their property.
The law requires that the “Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee” comes into existence no later than September 1, 2021. This committee will help create rules related to cannabis. The committee is also supposed to promote “economic and cultural diversity,” meaning that lawmakers want to ensure that all communities across New Mexico have a chance to participate in the growing cannabis industry.
“We are ensuring that people from all walks of life, without having to have access to a lot of capital, can enter this new industry,” Rep. Javier Martínez said during a March 31 senate meeting. Martínez helped introduce the bill.
The law outlines 12 key parts of the cannabis supply chain that will need a permit to conduct business. They are: 1. Cannabis consumption areas (think: smoking lounges); 2. Couriers and transporters; 3. Manufacturers; 4. Microbusinesses; 5. Producers (growers or wholesalers); 6. Research Labs; 7. Retailers; 8. Servers; 9. Testing labs; 10. Cannabis training and education programs; 11. Cannabis microbusinesses with multiple roles (such as growing and serving); 12. Vertically integrated businesses (with multiple roles, such as manufacture, transport, and retail).
Beginning 90 days after the Governor signs the bill, adults age 21 and over can keep up to six mature and six immature plants in their home, according to the law. This is a per-person maximum. So if you live with other people, you can have more plants. But the maximum number of plants allowed in a home — no matter how many people live there — is 12 mature plants. Violate that and you can be slapped with a fourth degree felony. And yes, if you move, you can take your plants with you.
You can’t smoke marijuana in public, except in licensed cannabis consumption areas. A first offense will likely set you back $50 as a civil penalty. But if you’re under 18 and caught smoking marijuana illegally, you aren’t required to pay a fine, according to the law.
Individuals under the age of 18 caught intentionally producing cannabis are subject to either a 4-hour drug education and legal rights program or four hours of community service. Adults over 18 but under 21 who grow marijuana plants may be subject to anywhere from a $50 fine up to a fourth degree felony, depending on how many plants they produce.
10%-25% of Cultivation
Lawmakers included measures to prevent the growing recreational industry from causing a shortage of medical marijuana. The law allows the cannabis control division of the NM Regulation & Licensing Department to force all cannabis establishments to reserve at least 10% of their cannabis for sale to medical users if necessary. But the bill states that the cannabis control division can’t require businesses to keep more than 25% of their stock as medical-only reserves.
Under the law, cannabis retailers are subject to a “cannabis excise tax” that starts at 12% and will eventually increase to 18% by 2030. This is applied to the price paid for the product. But this tax doesn’t apply to medical marijuana sales.