During a special legislative session initiated by Gov. Lujan Grisham the New Mexico Legislature passed two separate bills connected to cannabis legalization. Governor Grisham, a Democrat, signed both bills into law April 12, and has long been a vocal proponent of ending cannabis prohibition. Grisham contends that these reforms will result in the creation of new jobs and increase tax revenues.
The first piece of legislation, House Bill 2, creates a regulation system that will allow for legal retail cannabis sales within the state. The bill also legalizes the possession and cultivation of the herb, which is still federally illegal.
Under the law, anyone 21 years of age or older can legally purchase as many as two ounces of dried cannabis products, or up to 16 grams of cannabis extract from licensed retail establishments. Home cultivation of up to six mature cannabis plants, or 12 per household, will now be legal as long as they were being grown for personal use.
The smell of cannabis will no longer be grounds for police search and seizure.
The second piece of legislation, Senate Bill 2, calls for the automatic review and expungement of the records of those within the state who have been convicted of simple cannabis offenses. Anyone previously convicted of offenses that will now be legal by the new legislation will automatically be eligible to have their records expunged.
The commercial sale of cannabis is slated to begin by April 1, 2022. The taxes on cannabis products sold will initially be 12% but are set to eventually reach 18%, creating new tax revenue for the state.
The expungement component of the new legislation is in keeping with recent trends focusing on social equity and reversing the racial disparities that were built into prohibition.
New York Legalizes Cannabis
Cannabis legalization is really on a roll. New York State has joined Virginia, New Jersey, and New Mexico in radically reforming state laws that prohibited cannabis use, possession, cultivation, and sales, with nearly have of the nation living in a state where it is legal to imbibe for the sheer pleasure of it. Thirty three states have now made cannabis legal in some form, with seventeen states legalizing cannabis outright.
The embattled Governor Cuomo signed legislation on March 30, allowing New Yorkers to possess up to 3 ounces of cannabis products or 24 grams of concentrate. Residents of the state 21 or over will be able to cultivate up to six mature plants at home.
Equity programs are built into the law including grants to small farmers and communities, such as communities of color, that have been disproportionately targeted and impacted by cannabis prohibition.
New York will become the second-largest recreational cannabis market in the country.
“This is a historic day in New York — one that rights the wrongs of the past by putting an end to harsh prison sentences, embraces an industry that will grow the Empire State’s economy, and prioritizes marginalized communities so those that have suffered the most will be the first to reap the benefits,” said Cuomo in a statement not long after he signed the bill into law.
Many now predict that, despite a lack of funding for traditional reform efforts, a critical mass is close to being reached for the ending of federal prohibition for good.
Thailand Moves Toward Legalization
In January of this year the government of Thailand announced plans for the legal use of cannabis for medicine, food, and cosmetics. The country legalized the use of medical cannabis in 2018, becoming the first Southeast Asian nation to do so. Thai citizens are allowed to grow six plants per household, and can sell the cannabis they grow in order to supplement their income. Households will be able to provide homegrown cannabis to state hospitals, food facilities, or cosmetic manufacturers.
Under the new reforms individuals, government offices, and companies will be allowed to apply for authorization to use cannabis for medicinal uses, as well as for textile, pharmaceutical, or cosmetic purposes. However, such cannabis must be cycled through state facilities as the herb remains in Thailand’s criminal code.
There is a catch, however. Cannabis must register less than 0.2 percent THC to qualify as legal, essentially designating it as hemp.
Vivian McPeak is a Seattle based social justice activist, media personality, and writer. Vivian is the president of Seattle Events, a Non-Profit Organization, producer of the Seattle HEMPFEST®, the world’s largest annual cannabis policy reform rally. The recipient of the High Times Magazine 2012 Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award and DOPE Magazine 2016 Emery Award for lifetime achievement, and in 2016 he was named one of the “50 Most Influential People” by Seattle Magazine. Vivian has appeared on numerous television and cable news networks, including FOX News, CNN, & NBC. McPeak is the host of Hempresent, a weekly radio podcast on Cannabis Radio with listeners on multiple continents.