New Mexico lawmakers have approved a series of bills aimed at reforming the state’s cannabis laws but failed to act on pending adult-use legalization legislation, reports Paul Armentano of NORML.
Senate Bill 323 is a decriminalization plan that would reduce first-time cannabis possession penalties for up to one-half ounce from a criminal misdemeanor carrying a potential 15-day jail sentence to a ‘penalty assessment,’ punishable by a $50 fine. Jail time will remain an option for repeat offenders or individuals carrying more than a half-ounce of cannabis. Once signed, the decriminalization law will take effect on July 1, 2019.
Senate Bill 406 is medical cannabis legislation that expands access to the plant and adds protection for patients. The bill updates the state’s medical cannabis rules to allow patients suffering from post-traumatic stress, severe chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, sleep apnea, and neuropathy to access the program. The bill also prevents employers, social service workers, and hospitals from discriminating against patients because of their cannabis use and/or their failure to pass a drug test (because of their cannabis use). Lastly, the measure prevents lawmakers from capping the amount of THC or other cannabinoids present in commercial cannabis products.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is supportive of the reforms and is expected to sign the bills into law. She also said that the adult-use issue will be broached again during next year’s 30-day legislative session.