2020-21 Improvements and Recommendations
Legislators in New Mexico passed HB 2 in early 2021. The bill legalizes cannabis for all adults over 21, allows cultivation of up to six plants at home, and establishes a system for retail access. Governor Grisham signed the legislation, which was a priority for her administration, in April 2021. The effects of the legislation will roll out in stages with legal penalties concerning possession and cultivation for adults disappearing first in June. The commission will begin the licensing process in September and is required to conclude it by the beginning of 2022 with sales to begin a year after the legislation was signed in April.
The tight four-month turnaround has left many in the state concerned about the new companies’ ability to become operational by that time. Anticipating this crisis, regulators in New Mexico have extended the capacity of plants allowed to be grown by producers. Regardless of the production increases, patients in New Mexico should expect product shortages through most of 2022 as production races to catch up with consumption.
In May, a New Mexico judge ruled that the state was unfairly denying too many patients medical cannabis cards in a manner that was inconsistent with existing law. After the judge’s decision and subsequent action by the state, New Mexico saw substantial growth in its patient population in 2020- 2021. With over 40,000 new enrollments, the state passed the 100,000-patient threshold. This substantial expansion to the patient population was already straining the state’s production capacity, the addition of the state’s adult population is likely to negatively impact patients.
New Mexico’s regulators have a storm on their hands. The flood of new customers that adult use retail will bring on top of the existing medical market is likely to cripple supply. Regulators should take steps to ensure that a separate supply of patient products is made available exclusively to patients, especially on products like RSOs which more sensitive patients rely on. Beyond that, New Mexico’s lawmakers must take steps to ensure that patients have protections from housing discrimination and DUI charges.
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