This is proving to be a big year for cannabis. As a result, we are ranking the fifty states from worst to best on how they treat cannabis and those who consume it. Each of our State of Cannabis posts will analyze one state and our final post will crown the best state for cannabis. As is always the case, but particularly so with this series, we welcome your comments. We are now working through the top ten. The remaining states all have legalized medical marijuana and the criminal penalties in the remaining states range from bad to good, but many have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Now we turn to state number nine: New Mexico.
Our previous rankings are as follows: 9. Nevada; 10. Hawaii; 11. Maryland; 12. Connecticut; 13. Vermont; 14. Rhode Island; 15. Kentucky; 16.Pennsylvania; 17.Delaware; 18. Michigan; 19. New Hampshire; 20. Ohio; 21. New Jersey; 22. Illinois; 23. Minnesota; 24. New York; 25. Wisconsin; 26. Arizona; 27. West Virginia; 28. Indiana; 29. North Carolina; 30. Utah; 31. South Carolina; 32. Tennessee; 33. North Dakota; 34.Georgia; 35. Louisiana; 36. Mississippi; 37. Nebraska; 38. Missouri; 39. Florida; 40. Arkansas; 41. Montana; 42. Iowa; 43. Virginia; 44. Wyoming; 45. Texas; 46. Kansas; 47. Alabama; 48. Idaho; 49. Oklahoma; 50. South Dakota.
Criminal Penalties. Possession of less than one ounce of cannabis in New Mexico is punishable by a fine of $50-100 and up to 15 days imprisonment. Subsequent offenses for this amount earn a fine of $100-1,000 and a maximum 1-year prison sentence. Possession of 1-8 ounces also earns a fine of $100-1,000 and a maximum 1-year prison sentence. Possession of over 8 ounces earns up to 1.5 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
Distribution of cannabis is punished in New Mexico based on weight, as follows:
- Less than 100 pounds earns up to 1.5 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000. Subsequent offenses earn up to 3 years in prison and a fine up to $5,000.
- Distribution of over 100 pounds earns up to 3 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Subsequent offenses earn up 9 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000
These penalties increase if cannabis is distributed to a minor or in a school zone.
Medical Marijuana. New Mexico legislators approved medical marijuana in 2007. Cannabis patients may receive a certification from a medical provider that they have one of the following qualifying conditions:
- Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS),
- Crohn’s Disease,
- Hepatitis C Infection currently receiving antiviral treatment (proof of current anti-viral treatment required),
- Huntington’s Disease,
- Hospice Care,
- Inclusion Body Myositis,
- Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis,
- Multiple Sclerosis,
- Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, with (proof of objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity required),
- Painful Peripheral Neuropathy,
- Parkinson’s disease,
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,
- Severe Chronic Pain,
- Severe Anorexia/Cachexia,
- Spasmodic Torticollis (Cervical Dystonia), and
- Ulcerative Colitis.
Cannabis patients must then apply to the New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Program. The Medical Cannabis Department then issues the patient a Patient Enrollment Card which they must carry anytime they use or possess cannabis.
New Mexico cannabis patients are allowed to grow up to four mature plants and twelve seedlings and they may possess up to six ounces of usable marijuana. Patients may only cultivate marijuana at their own residence or property. Additionally, cannabis patients must apply for a Personal Production License from the New Mexico Department of Health.
Alternatively, patients can purchase marijuana from a state-licensed producer. New Mexico’s medical cannabis industry includes licensed producers, couriers, manufacturers, and laboratories. Producers are allowed to grow and sell cannabis to medical marijuana patients. A list of the currently licensed producers is available here. Couriers transport cannabis. Manufacturers process cannabis into other products such as tinctures and oils.
New Mexico regulators are considering fairly groundbreaking rule changes to allow opioid addicts access to marijuana to treat their addictions. KREQ News 13 reports that “New Mexicans addicted to heroin or other opiates like pain killers may soon be able to apply for a medical marijuana card.”