Possession and use of recreational cannabis will become legal Tuesday in New Mexico for adults 21 and over. But a legal market for producing and selling cannabis and cannabis products is months away.
Here’s what consumers need to know about the portion of the law that takes effect Tuesday.
Question: Who is eligible to purchase and possess cannabis — and how much can you buy?
Answer: Adults 21 and older can buy and possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis or 16 ounces of cannabis extract, or up to 800 milligrams of edible cannabis, at one time. Residents can have a larger supply in their homes.
Question: When does it start?
Answer: Personal recreational use becomes legal June 29. Licenses to sell cannabis are expected to be issued by April 1.
Question: As a recreational user, where do I buy legal cannabis in the meantime?
Answer: You can’t. No types of recreational cannabis transactions are legal. It also is illegal to transport cannabis across states lines, so although you can legally purchase products at licensed stores in other states, you cannot legally bring it home.
Question: Can I grow at home for personal use?
Answer: Yes — up to six plants for an individual or 12 plants for a household with two or more adults over 21.
Question: Do I need a permit to grow at home?
Answer: No. All you need are seeds.
Question: Is it easy to grow cannabis at home?
Answer: Experts, farmers and grow-at-home people say no. There are a number of online sources, including YouTube videos, with tips on how to grow.
Question: Can I use in public?
Answer: No. But plans are in place to create approved cannabis consumption areas in the future.
Question: How much will recreational cannabis cost?
Answer: State officials say the market will determine that price down the line. The state Department of Health says the price of a gram of medical cannabis ranged from $9.25 to $11.64 in fiscal year 2020.
Question: What role do local governments play in all this?
Answer: Cities, towns and counties can create restrictions for cannabis businesses when it comes to the location of shops and hours of operation. But officials cannot outright prohibit cannabis businesses.
Question: Can anyone apply for a license to produce, sell or transfer cannabis?
Answer: Anyone 21 or older who does not have a criminal conviction for a workplace offense, such as fraud or embezzlement, is eligible to apply. Other criminal convictions also may affect eligibility.
Question: How much will a license cost?
Answer: The rules are still being developed, but a proposal suggests licenses will cost $2,500 per year for larger cannabis producers, manufacturers, retailers, and those who want to run cannabis testing and research laboratories, with an additional fee of $1,000 for each location. Smaller businesses would pay as little as $500 annually or up to $2,500 for a license including several operations.
Question: What do I need to have in place to apply for a business license?
Answer: Growers will need legal proof of water rights. All businesses will need a facility to grow, manufacture or sell cannabis and a security system, including a vault and security cameras.
Question: When can I apply for a license to produce, manufacture or sell cannabis?
Answer: The opening date for applications is Sept. 1, but state officials are hoping for an earlier date, perhaps as soon as mid-July.
Question: Will there be a cap on plant production for producers and manufacturers?
Answer: Yes, at least until the end of 2025. The proposed rules for larger businesses include plant count ranges for several levels of production, with a maximum plant count of 4,500. Microgrowers can get licenses to grow up to 100 or up to 200 plants.
Question: How will the new recreational cannabis laws work with the current Medical Cannabis Program?
Answer: Current medical cannabis businesses can apply for a dual license to produce and sell recreational cannabis. In addition, proposed rules would require recreational cannabis retailers to set aside at least 25 percent of their products for medical cannabis patients to offset concerns about supply shortages.
Question: If I’m a medical cannabis patient, should I hold on to my card and remain in the program?
Answer: Yes. Under the new law, a certain amount of cannabis for patients in the medical program will not be taxed, while all recreational cannabis will be taxed.
Question: Even though using recreational cannabis in New Mexico and some other states is legal, isn’t it still prohibited by federal law?
Answer: Yes. FBI spokesman Frank Fisher wrote in an email: “Marijuana is illegal by federal law, regardless if a state decriminalizes it. Marijuana-related incidents are investigated by the FBI as resources allow.”
Question: Does that mean federal law enforcement agencies might increase enforcement of federal laws prohibiting cannabis?
Answer: Carlos Briano, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration, wrote in an email: “The DEA does not target drug users, of any drug, simply for being a drug user. We focus our efforts on criminal organizations, violent offenders, and serious drug traffickers.” Still, he said, anyone in possession of a controlled substance or marketing it could face federal prosecution. Those transferring cannabis across state lines face the greatest risk, he added.
Question: How many states have legalized recreational cannabis?
Answer: Currently, 18 states and the District of Columbia — though not all of them have started sales yet. Just this year, five — Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York and Virginia — approved legalization.
Question: Where can I find out more about the proposed rules for businesses?
Answer: Visit the state Regulation and Licensing Department’s Cannabis Control Division at ccd.rld.state.nm.us.