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New Mexico

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 10, 2019

    Governors in two western states have signed legislation into law to facilitate the process of permitting those past criminal convictions to have their records expunged.

    In Utah, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert signed House Bill 431: The Clean Slate Act into law. The measure creates a process for the automatic expungement and deletion of certain criminal convictions, including misdemeanor convictions for the possession of a controlled substance.

    To be eligible for automatic expungement, one must have completed their sentence and possess no subsequent convictions for a period of five years. According to reporting by the Salt Lake City Tribune, Utah will become only the second state in the nation to enact such a broad automatic expungement policy.

    The new law takes effect on May 1, 2020.

    In New Mexico, Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed into law House Bill 370, The Criminal Record Expungement Act. The Act permits those convicted of certain violations, misdemeanors, or felonies – following the completion of their sentence and payment of applicable fines – to petition the court for an order to expunge arrest records and public records related to that conviction. Those seeking to vacate misdemeanor convictions must wait two years following the completion of their sentence, and have no subsequent convictions, prior to seeking expungement. Those with felony convictions must wait six-years prior to petitioning the court.

    The new law takes effect on January 1, 2020.

    For information about additional pending legislation, visit NORML’s Action Center here.

  • by NORML April 4, 2019

    Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed legislation into law decriminalizing the possession of personal use amounts of cannabis.

    Senate Bill 323, which takes effect on July 1, 2019, reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 15 days in jail — to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses, or in situations where the defendant possesses greater amounts of marijuana, will remain punishable by the possibility of jail time.

    Police in New Mexico made over 3,600 marijuana possession arrests in 2016.

    Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have either legalized or decriminalized the adult possession and use of marijuana.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director March 18, 2019

    Marijuana FieldState lawmakers have approved a series of bills reducing penalties for marijuana possession offenses and strengthening and expanding legal protections for medical cannabis patients. The measures now await action from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who is supportive of the changes.

    DECRIMINALIZATION

    Senate Bill 323 amends minor marijuana possession penalties. The measure reduces first-time penalties for the possession of up to one-half ounce of cannabis from a criminal misdemeanor — punishable by up to 15 days in jail — to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine. Subsequent offenses, or in instances where the defendant possesses greater amounts of marijuana, remain punishable by the possibility of jail time.

    Once signed into law, the reduced penalties take effect on July 1, 2019.

    MEDICAL CANNABIS

    Senate Bill 406 expands medical cannabis access and provides important new patient protections. It expands the pool of patients eligible for cannabis therapy to include those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, severe chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, sleep apnea, and neuropathy, among other newly specified conditions. It also enacts explicit legal protections prohibiting employers, social service workers, and hospitals from arbitrarily discriminating against patients solely for their medical cannabis status and/or for their failure to pass a drug test. The measure prohibits regulators from placing limits on the percentage of THC or other cannabinoids in therapeutic products and it establishes reciprocity with other states’ medical cannabis programs.

    Separate legislation, Senate Bill 204 establishes regulations and procedures for the storage and administration of certain medical cannabis products to students in school settings.

    INDUSTRIAL HEMP

    House Bill 581 regulates the commercial production of industrial hemp and hemp-extract products in a manner that comports with provisions in the 2018 federal Farm Act. Under the legislation, “The department of environment shall issue permits … to extract, process or engage in other manufacturing activities regarding hemp, including manufacturing intermediate hemp-derived products and hemp finished products.” The effective date of the Act is July 1, 2019.

    LEGALIZATION

    House-backed legislation that sought to legalize the possession of marijuana by adults and regulate its commercial production and sale stalled in the Senate Finance Committee, after the Chair failed to call the bill for a vote. Nonetheless, Gov. Lujan Grisham has announced that she will add the issue to the agenda of the 2020 legislative session.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 20, 2017

    Pain reliefChronic pain patients enrolled in a statewide medical cannabis access program are significantly more likely to either reduce or cease their use of opioids as compared to non-enrolled patients suffering from similar pain conditions, according to data published online in the journal PLOS One.

    A team of investigators at the University of New Mexico assessed opioid prescription use patterns over a 21-month period in 37 pain patients enrolled in the state’s medicinal cannabis program versus 29 non-enrolled patients.

    Compared to non-users, medical cannabis enrollees “were more likely either to reduce daily opioid prescription dosages between the beginning and end of the sample period (83.8 percent versus 44.8 percent) or to cease filling opioid prescriptions altogether (40.5 percent versus 3.4 percent).” Enrollees were also more likely to report an improved quality of life.

    Authors concluded, “The clinically and statistically significant evidence of an association between MCP enrollment and opioid prescription cessation and reductions and improved quality of life warrants further investigations on cannabis as a potential alternative to prescription opioids for treating chronic pain.”

    Prior studies similarly report that patients enrolled in cannabis access programs are more likely to reduce their use of opioids and other prescription drugs.

    Full text of the study, “Association between medical cannabis and prescription opioid use in chronic pain patients: A preliminary cohort study,” appears online here. NORML’s marijuana and opioids fact-sheet is online here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 10, 2017

    Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has vetoed legislation, House Bill 527, which would have greatly expanded the state’s decade-old medical cannabis program.

    For those keeping track, this is the third marijuana-related bill the Governor has vetoed this legislative session. In March, Gov. Martinez rejected without explanation a pair of measures that sought to license the cultivation of industrial hemp in compliance with Section 7606 of the Federal Farm Act. Governor Martinez previously received a ‘F’ grade on NORML’s 2016 Gubernatorial Report Card.

    In her veto statement of HB 527, the Governor opined that she did not favor adding new qualifying conditions by legislative action. She specifically expressed concerns regarding the use of cannabis for those suffering from opioid dependence, and for those patients registered in other states. Studies report that the use of cannabis is associated with a reduction in opioid use, abuse, mortality, and hospitalizations.

    Had HB 527 been signed into law, it would have permitted qualified patients to receive organ transplants, it would have expanded the list of qualifying illnesses for which medical cannabis may be recommended, and it would established reciprocity for non-residents, among other changes.

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