Is weed legal in New Mexico?
Almost. Medical marijuana is legal in New Mexico for patients with qualifying conditions. Adult-use, or recreational, cannabis has been decriminalized.
But a new law signed in April 2021 makes it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of flower, 16 grams of concentrate, and 800 milligrams of edibles outside the home and an unspecified amount at home in a hidden, locked container. The effective date is June 29, 2021, and the legislation requires retail sales to begin no later than April 1, 2022.
In 1978, New Mexico became the first state in the country to pass legislation recognizing the medical value of marijuana. The historic stand was due, in part, to the urging of Lynn Pierson, a cancer patient who died while advocating for marijuana to alleviate nausea, pain, and other symptoms associated with cancer and glaucoma.
In 2007, the New Mexico Legislature passed SB 523, or the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. SB 523 legalized medical cannabis and established a system regulated by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). It directed the NMDOH to establish, implement, and administer the statewide Medical Cannabis Program. This law allows New Mexicans with a physician's recommendation for treatment of one of 28 recognized medical conditions to use cannabis.
Albuquerque, New Mexico's biggest city, decriminalized the possession of 1 ounce (28 grams) of marijuana in 2018, making the offense a $25 fine.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed SB323 into law on April 3, 2019. The bill decriminalized first-time possession of marijuana for adults 18 and older, reducing possession of under half an ounce (14 grams) to a $50 fine instead of jail time.
On April 12, 2021, New Mexico became the fifth state to legalize cannabis via the legislature when Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Cannabis Regulation Act, or HB 2. The law made it legal for adults 21 and older to purchase, possess, consume, and give away to other adults up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of flower, 16 grams of concentrate, and 800 milligrams of edibles. It also legalized growing up to 12 mature plants per household; making edibles and solventless extracts at home; and possessing more cannabis (no limit was given) at home so long as it's stored in a locked container away from public view. A separate bill, SB 2, automatically expunges the records of those charged with or convicted of activities that wouldn't be illegal under the new law.
HB 2 set up the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) to promulgate rules and set up licensing procedures for businesses, including those for on-site consumption. It also required licensing considerations to address long-standing issues around race, social equity, and enforcement of cannabis laws. Oversight and regulation of the state's medical marijuana program—except maintenance of the patient registry—also moved to CCD from the health department.
The New Mexico Department of Health's Medical Cannabis Program oversaw the state's medical marijuana program prior to the passage of HB 2. MCP continues to operate the patient registry and maintain the list of qualifying conditions.
Where is it safe to purchase and consume?
Though recreational cannabis has been legalized in New Mexico, it will be some time before retail operations are up and running. In the meantime, only patients and caregivers can purchase medical cannabis from state-licensed nonprofit producers. If patients are unable to make purchases themselves, a caregiver can purchase and deliver medical cannabis on their behalf. Additionally, state-licensed delivery services are available.
Qualified patients may apply for a personal production license, allowing them to grow cannabis for personal use.
Medical cannabis consumption is limited to private property out of public view. Patients and caregivers face criminal prosecution or civil penalties for possession, distribution, transfer, or consumption in a school bus or public transportation vehicle, school campuses, workplaces, public parks, recreation centers, or youth centers.
Driving under the influence of cannabis is illegal and consumption in a vehicle is prohibited for drivers and passengers.
Even though marijuana was decriminalized in 2019, marijuana possession is still illegal. Those caught possessing half an ounce of cannabis or less may be fined $50. Those caught possessing more face steeper penalties and jail time.
After June 29, 2021, adults 21 and older can possess, consume, and give away to other adults up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of flower, 16 grams of concentrate, and 800 milligrams of edibles. They can possess more cannabis (the law doesn't specify a limit) at home if it's stored in a locked container away from public view.
Possession of up to 8 ounces (226 grams) of flower or 64 grams of extract can result in a misdemeanor charge, punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Beyond that, it's a felony with a sentence of 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine to start.
Only patients in the registry and their designated caregivers can legally possess medical cannabis. A qualifying patient has access to no more than 8 ounces of cannabis (227 grams) over a three-month period. Once approved, patients and their caregivers can have a combined total of four mature plants and 12 seedlings. Patient possession and cultivation limits are likely to change as the CCD develops new rules.
How to get a medical marijuana card in New Mexico
Patients in the New Mexico registry are authorized to purchase and consume medical cannabis if they meet certain requirements for eligibility. Patients who have received a physician's certification for a qualifying condition must submit an application and a valid New Mexico identification card to the NMDOH. Upon approval, registration and written certifications are valid for up to one year.
Patients are required to submit renewal applications at least 30 days before their registry card expires. The NMDOH does not charge a fee for either processing patients' applications or issuing registry cards.
The NMDOH maintains a complete list of qualifying conditions. They are:
- Alzheimer's Disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease
- Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Cervical dystonia
- Crohn's disease
- Epilepsy and seizure disorders
- Hepatitis C
- 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
Anyone can petition NMDOH to add qualifying conditions.
- Complete a patient registry application
- Obtain a valid written certification from a qualified healthcare provider
- Provide a state-issued driver's license or identification card to establish proof of New Mexico residency
- Designate a caregiver, if applicable
- Receive a registry identification card; there is no fee for the card
Patients in the registry who require assistance obtaining or using medical cannabis may designate up to two caregivers. Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and may only provide care for one patient at a time. Caregivers are required to submit their application along with their designated patient's. Patients younger than age 18 are required to designate at least one adult parent or legal guardian as a caregiver.
Caregivers must submit a caregiver application to the NMDOH.
On July 1, 2020, New Mexico began allowing out-of-state patients to purchase medical marijuana within the state. The legislation permits patients from any state, the District of Columbia, US territories, and New Mexico native tribes to purchase cannabis in-state. One of the most liberal reciprocity policies nationwide, this reform in New Mexico requires only proof of physician authorization rather than cardholder status. In addition, out-of-state participants may obtain cannabis medicine for conditions other than those listed as qualifying in New Mexico.
The NMDOH requires state-licensed nonprofit producers to contract with at least one independent testing laboratory to ensure that all safety and quality assurance requirements are met.
Certified labs must test for the following:
- Cannabinoids and potency
- Heavy metals
- Microbiological contaminants
- Moisture and water content
- Residual solvents
Frequently asked questions
What happens if you get caught with edibles in New Mexico?
Prior to June 29, 2021, you could be charged with a misdemeanor and subject to up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine, depending on the amount. Please speak with an attorney for specific questions. After June 29, 2021, you are free to possess up to 800 milligrams of edibles outside the home or more than that at home under lock and key with no penalty.
When will adult-use legalization take effect in New Mexico?
The Cannabis Regulation Act, or HB 2, legalized adult-use cannabis in New Mexico starting June 29, 2021.
This page was last updated April 14, 2021.