It’s been a tumultuous century for America’s relationship with cannabis. From obscurity at the beginning of the 20th century to demonization during the early-to-mid 1900’s all the way to legalization in the new millennium, Americans are experimenting with cannabis legalization now more than ever. Recent legalization efforts are helping create new avenues of research and allowing people to speak more openly about the benefits of cannabis.
Polls show that a plurality of Americans support cannabis not just as a medicine, but believe it should be legalized as well. One state with a growing cannabis culture is New Mexico. Their medical cannabis industry is seeing tremendous success and many people are pushing for adult-use legalization state-wide. To help you get a better understanding of cannabis in the Land of Enchantment, let’s take a closer look at the state’s history and current views surrounding marijuana.
Cannabis Culture in New Mexico
New Mexico first outlawed cannabis in the year 1923. In 1978, they passed progressive medical cannabis reform for chemotherapy patients; when they did, they became the first state to recognize the medicinal value of cannabis. One of the patients who fought for its medicinal use was Lynn Pierson. He is one of the namesakes of New Mexico’s 2007 medical cannabis law, The Lynn and Erin Compassion Use Act.
Lynn Pierson is one of the most important people in the history of New Mexico – and the history of the United States – regarding its relationship with cannabis.
Unfortunately, being the first state in the United States to recognize the medicinal value of cannabis also means New Mexico has retained some draconian ideas about recreational use. For example, possession of small amounts of cannabis is punishable by fines and possible time behind bars. A few cannabis legalization bills have bounced back and forth between the State House and the Senate though. H.B. 527 was recently passed in both the House and Senate, but later vetoed by Governor Susana Martinez.
The most recent attempt to push for cannabis legalization in New Mexico is H.B. 312, introduced by State Representative, Javier Martinez. It has widespread public support with over 60% of New Mexicans supporting the legalization of cannabis.
Public support aside, cannabis legalization in New Mexico makes sense fiscally and socially for a variety of reasons. However, even its staunchest supporters admit that the climate in the New Mexican legislature limits its chance at success in 2018. Thankfully, the medical cannabis industry remains strong, but with some limitations.
Quantity and Purchase Restrictions in New Mexico
Medical marijuana patients in New Mexico are allowed to purchase no more than 8 ounces of cannabis over a 90-day period, and purchases must go through a licensed non-profit dispensary. There are over 60 licensed non-profit dispensaries in New Mexico that range all across the state, however, most dispensaries are located in or near Albuquerque.
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While patients may use the help of a caregiver to provide them with their cannabis, they may also grow it themselves with a Personal Production License. However, there is a 16-plant limit, of which only four can be mature; the rest must be seedlings.
Once patients have their product, the laws are still somewhat strict. For example, the cannabis must remain in a package with its product label and identifying information. If a patient rolls a joint and passes it to a friend, they’re violating the law, even if their friend is a medicinal user as well. This is because medical cannabis in New Mexico is for personal use only. Even so, having access to medical marijuana for personal use has been a great benefit to many New Mexicans.
How Cannabis Improves the Quality of Life for New Mexicans
People who suffer from a pile of diseases benefit from New Mexico’s medical cannabis laws. Crohn’s disease, Huntington’s, hepatitis C, chronic pain, cancer and glaucoma are all qualifying conditions on a more extensive list.
Aside from providing relief for a wide range of diseases and ailments, medical cannabis also allows patients who use opioids a safer alternative. This means fewer opioid-related deaths and fewer people moving to harmful street drugs like heroin. Since opioid deaths in the United States have recently contributed to the drop in the average lifespan of Americans, it’s easy to see how cannabis improves the standard of living for people in New Mexico.
Furthermore, states like New Mexico that have cannabis available to patients see better health outcomes overall. Patients are happier with their care, see increased efficacy in their treatments and report an increased standard of living when using cannabis in their medical regimen.
The Future of Cannabis in New Mexico
While New Mexico would need to legalize recreational cannabis in order to see its full benefits, the progress so far has been positive and the future looks even better. With the push for H.B. 312 this year, the discussion on cannabis legalization will undoubtedly advance and hopefully policy issues will be looked at more deeply in the future.
With any luck, New Mexican lawmakers will eventually come to terms with the economic and public health benefits as other states continue to show profits and improvement. It’s possible that full legalization will move forward rapidly in 2019 but only time will tell.
Do you believe cannabis legalization in New Mexico is a good idea? Let us know in the comments below!