John Mondragon, 56, of Santa Fe, ordered a cannabis-infused lemonade that helps relieve his post-traumatic stress.
The milestone was celebrated by cannabis consumers and advocates for criminal justice reform who say poor and minority communities have been prosecuted disproportionately for using marijuana. Now, the scent of marijuana no longer is an adequate cause for searching vehicles and property in New Mexico.
“We are proactively stopping the disproportionate criminalization of people of color for cannabis possession, and we are building a new industry,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release.
Regulators held an all-day public hearing to vet proposed rules for cannabis businesses to determine future licensing fees, quality controls, audit requirements and the extent of criminal background checks for producers.
New Mexico joins a wave of states that have broadly legalized pot through the legislative process rather than by voter-approved ballot initiative. That has allowed for innovations such as marijuana “microbusiness” licenses that will allow up to 200 pot plants at seed-to-sales cannabis operations.
After legalization efforts repeatedly faltered in the Democratic-led Legislature, Lujan Grisham called a special legislative session in March to tackle cannabis reforms and signed the law in April.
Medical users at the Minerva cannabis dispensary in Santa Fe welcomed the changes that took effect Tuesday — including the elimination of taxes on personal supplies of medical cannabis.
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — It’s legal for people in New Mexico to possess recreational marijuana and grow those plants at home as of Tuesday, the same day regulators opened discussions on rules for the launch of pot sales next year.
Aurore Bleck of Santa Fe, a 70-year-old retired administrator, uses marijuana to treat nerve pain associated with her multiple sclerosis. She says the changes are likely to ease the financial strain of buying cannabis.
The application is currently only open for cultivation, but the department and the Cannabis Control Division has to come up with rules and regulations for manufacturers, curriers, retailers and cannabis testing by January 1, 2022.
In a statement RLD Superintendent Linda Trujillo said the department is committed to setting up a program “in ways that support businesses, consumers and communities.”
According to a press release from RLD, integrated businesses, or those that include multiple aspects of cannabis business, will need to apply for each part of their business separately, but any fees paid for individual licenses will be applied to the total fee that would normally be applied to an integrated license application.
According to RLD, five applications were submitted as complete, but had not been verified as complete. One of those completed applications, according to RLD, was a test application submitted by an existing medical cannabis producer. Existing medical cannabis producers went through the application process earlier this summer.
The Cannabis Control Act, which legalized non-medical cannabis use in New Mexico requires that cultivation licenses be issued no later than January 1, 2022 and that retail sales begin no later than April 1, 2022.
According to an RLD representative, of the 344 applications that were started, 226 of them were for a microbusiness license, which is a type of production license to grow no more than 200 plants.
Nearly 400 companies started the process of applying for a license to grow cannabis in the first several hours the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department started accepting applications.
“We need to educate New Mexicans on what is responsible adult use of cannabis. We advocate that if people are going to be growing, then they grow in a secure, locked area. Just like if you had a firearm – you wouldn’t want your toddler or child having access. We need to educate folks who will be participating in this new industry,” said Kaltenbach.
“There’s a cap on the number of plants that individuals can grow. For example, you can’t have more than six mature plants and six immature plants. If there are multiple adults that live in one household, you cannot have more than twelve mature and twelve immature plants,” said Kaltenbach.
“I think having a plant lying around is not a huge danger, but what is more concerning is obviously edibles that are made to look like candy or desserts. We’ve learned from Colorado that we need child-proof packaging. We need to not allow products to mimic a candy,” said Kaltenbach.
Possession and growth of cannabis will only be legal for individuals 21 and older. In order to reduce the risk of minors using cannabis, Kaltenbach states that New Mexico needs to focus on education about responsible adult use and growth of cannabis at home.
“I don’t think that there will be any economic impact on local dispensaries at all. I think a small number of people will choose to grow their own, but it’s not going to be an impact for the industry from an economic perspective,” said Kaltenbach.
“I think there are multiple ways that it can benefit residents. For one, individuals who are low income can grow the plants at home, just like currently medical cannabis patients can. We obviously live in a very rural state, so folks that can’t drive hundreds of miles to get to the nearest retailer might choose to grow plants at home,” said Kaltenbach.
Adult-use cannabis will be legal in New Mexico at the end of June, but sales are not expected to begin until next Spring.