States to Watch in 2021: New Mexico

In advance of the 2021 legislative sessions, NORML will be providing a more detailed break down of legislative efforts in various states across the nation that are poised to enact significant marijuana reforms next year. This is the latest in a series of blogs examining where state-specific reform efforts stand.

Members of a legislative working group issued recommendations to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in late 2019 urging lawmakers to legalize the adult-use cannabis market. The task-force estimated that enacting legalization will create an estimated 11,000 new jobs and yield some $620 million in sales within five years.

The Governor backed the recommendations, tweeting at the time, “I look forward to working with the Legislature to get a bill to my desk next year.” More recently, Gov. Lujan Grisham has advocated for marijuana legalization as a way to mitigate the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf has similarly expressed support, saying, “Hopefully we’ll get [marijuana reform] done in this session coming up.”

In 2019, House lawmakers passed adult-use legalization legislation through the chamber, but the proposal ultimately stalled in the Senate. A measure decriminalizing marijuana possession was enacted into law instead. In the 2020 legislative session, a legalization proposal was approved by a Senate committee, but then was later defeated. This past September, a joint panel of New Mexico House and Senate lawmakers heard testimony that legalizing the retail marijuana market would yield some $25 million in new revenue in the first year.

New Mexico’s legislative session begins on January 19, 2021. Lawmakers can pre-file legislation from January 4 until January 15.

According to statewide polling data, 72 percent of New Mexico residents said they favor a proposal to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis sales, including 94 percent of Democrats, 46 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of independents.