Is Medical-Only Weed Legal in New Mexico?

August 30, 2021
New Mexico Cannabis Legality
New Mexico Cannabis Legality

Is Marijuana Legal in the State of New Mexico?

Medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico, allowing medical patients with certain qualifying conditions to receive a state medical card that gives them access to cannabis at licensed dispensaries in places such as Albuquerque, Las Cruces, Santa Fe, or Rio Rancho.  The Land of Enchantment has also recently legalized adult-use weed for residents who wish to use cannabis recreationally.

 

History of Weed Laws

New Mexico first recognized medical marijuana as valuable in 1978 and subsequently enacted legislation that was forgiving toward patients seeking out medical marijuana as a form of treatment, as a result of the passing of Lynn Pierson, a medical marijuana advocate who had died of cancer. 

 

In 2007, the state passed SB 523, also known as the Lynn and Eric Compassionate Use Act.  This effectively legalized medical marijuana, leading to the establishment of a state-managed medical marijuana program overseen by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH).  This led to the development of the Medical Cannabis Program, enabling patients with qualifying conditions to become authorized to purchase cannabis at the recommendation of their physicians. 

 

In 2018, Albuquerque decriminalized possession of up to one ounce of cannabis among recreational users, requiring only a $25 fine.

 

In April of 2019, Governor Grisham signed SB 323 which decriminalized first-time possession among adults 18 years of age and older, allowing only a $50 fine to be the punishment rather than jailtime. 

 

Then, in April of 2021, Governor Grisham signed HB2, or the Cannabis Regulation Act.  This legalized cannabis use for all adults 21 or older, allowing them to purchase, consume and possess 2 ounces of flower, 16 grams of concentrate and 800 milligrams of THC-infused edibles.  Following this was the passing of SB 2 which expunged any convictions that would no longer be considered illegal in New Mexico.

 

Where Can a Person Legally Purchase Weed in New Mexico?

New Mexico has very recently legalized recreational, adult-use marijuana.  But, this is such a new change that the state has yet to establish rules for dispensaries, which means that recreational users cannot yet legally purchase cannabis in the state.

 

Therefore, the only people authorized to buy marijuana in New Mexico are authorized medical patients and their caretakers.  Dispensaries can be found throughout the state which will validate a medical card provided by the state’s medical marijuana program.  Further, the state does allow dispensaries to deliver to the homes of patients.

 

Where Can Cannabis Legally Be Used?

NM law requires that patients consume cannabis only on private property and out of public view.  Consuming cannabis in a school bus or public transportation vehicle, on school grounds, in workplaces, in public parks, in recreation centers or youth centers can lead to criminal charges.  Driving under the influence is strictly prohibited and can lead to DUI charges, and passengers can also face criminal charges if consuming cannabis in a moving vehicle.

 

Possession Laws

Possessing cannabis in a school bus or public transportation vehicle, on school grounds, in workplaces, in public parks, in recreation centers or youth centers is illegal.  A medical patient can possess up to 8 ounces of cannabis per 3 months.  Recreational users can possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis flower, 16 grams of concentrate or 800 milligrams of edibles.  But, the cannabis must be locked and kept away from public view.

 

Can Residents Grow Their Own?

Presently, New Mexico permits only medical patients and authorized caregivers to cultivate marijuana on private property.  They can grow up to 4 mature plants and 12 seedlings at any given time.  As of now, recreational users can still get arrested for growing their own marijuana.  But, these laws are likely to change soon as new legalization laws have taken place for adult users.

 

Medical Marijuana

New Mexico patient registry is managed by the state’s Department of Health.  Anyone can apply to receive a medical card that gives them access to cannabis sold in state-licensed dispensaries, but they must have one of the qualifying conditions determined by the state in order to be eligible.

 

Qualifying Conditions:

  • Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Anorexia
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
  • Cancer
  • Cervical dystonia
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy and seizure disorders
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hospice care
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inclusion-body myositis
  • Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis
  • Intractable nausea or vomiting
  • Intractable spasticity
  • Lewy body disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe chronic pain
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Ulcerative colitis

 

Patient Qualifications:

A patient must receive a diagnosis of one of the above conditions by a licensed physician in this state and obtain from them a certification that will be submitted to the state for approval.

 

How to Register for Medical Marijuana in New Mexico

A patient in Mexico can apply for medical marijuana by visiting the Department of Health’s website to obtain an application form.  They must submit the form along with their physician’s certification and a copy of their state-issued ID.  There is no application fee.

 

Qualifying as a Caregiver

To be a caregiver in NM, you must be at least 21 years of age and may only care for one patient at a time.  Patients who are 18 or younger are required to apply for a caregiver who is their parent or legal guardian.

 

Registering as a Caregiver

To register as a caregiver in New Mexico, you must fill out an application form to be a caregiver as provided by the state.  From there, once you are approved, you will receive a medical card that is valid at state-licensed dispensaries.

 

Reciprocity Laws

Allows patients from out-of-state to purchase cannabis from their dispensary as long as they’ve a physician’s authorization.  In other words, they do not require a state-licensed medical card.  Also, patients from out of state with a physician’s authorization can have a qualifying condition not listed by New Mexico.

 

Lab-Testing

New Mexico requires that all cannabis products in the state be lab-tested by an independent, state-authorized laboratory.  The products are tested for their cannabinoid profile and potency, along with the presence of toxins including microbes, and contaminants as well as impurities.  All of this is to ensure the safety of the products being sold.