New Mexico has become the latest state in the US to legalize the use of recreational marijuana after state legislatures signed a package of bills on Wednesday to be confirmed by the Democratic Governor.
Lawmakers in the state of New Mexico made use of a ‘marathon legislative session’ in order to push through these bills, which will see marijuana legalized in the state for recreational use by over 21s and past marijuana convictions erased.
All going well, these bills will see the legalization of weed usage and sales in New Mexico by April 2022.
Dissecting the bills
Before the 2020 election, the legalization of marijuana in the state was slumped on the floor, as many in the state legislature opposed the proposals.
Now, after a sweeping Democrat victory in the state, those opponents have been removed, and the legislation package has started to advance rapidly.
The proposals will not only legalize the usage and sale of recreational marijuana, but they will also create a new source of income for the state economy.
Plans show that the state will levy an initial excise tax at 12% for the sale of the drug, before increasing that to 18% later on.
However, this same proposal will eradicate all taxes on medicinal marijuana sales.
The bills state that possession of up to two ounces of marijuana will no longer be a crime and will allow people to grow six plants per person or 12 plants in total per household.
On top of this, the bills will erase the majority of all criminal convictions relating to marijuana from criminal records, while ‘stop and search’ powers for police will be reduced, meaning that the scent of marijuana or suspicion of possession will not present legal grounds for a stop and search.
The bills will also create a ‘cannabis control division’ for the authorization of up to 10 types of marijuana-related business licenses.
Small producers of the drug will be allowed to hold licenses with low annual payments, allowing them to grow up to 200 plants, as well as packaging and selling their products.
Also, past drug convictions will not automatically disqualify an individual from being accepted for a marijuana business license.
New Mexico becomes the latest state to introduce legislation to legalize the drug, after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a weed legalization bill on Wednesday, whilst proposals in Virginia are awaiting signatures.