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Marijuana Decriminalization Officially Takes Effect In New Mexico

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New Mexico’s marijuana decriminalization went into effect on Monday, about three months after the reform legislation was signed into law by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D).

Possession of a half ounce or less of cannabis is no longer punishable by jail time. Instead, the offense carries a $50 fine. Penalties for possessing drug paraphernalia are also reduced.

This officially makes New Mexico the 24th states to approve marijuana decriminalization. Hawaii is expected to follow suit, with the governor confirming last week that he wouldn’t veto a decriminalization bill that reduced penalties for possessing three grams or less of cannabis.

Though advocates applauded the reform move, they’ve expressed disappointment that New Mexico wasn’t able to legalize marijuana this session—something Grisham campaigned on.

But the governor hasn’t given up on broader legalization. Last week, she announced the formation of a working group that will be tasked with studying legal cannabis programs in other states and reporting back with recommendations on how New Mexico should approach legalization in 2020.

New York has experienced a similar situation this year. After lawmakers failed to reach a compromise on a legalization bill following months of negotiations, the legislature instead passed legislation expanding the state’s decriminalization policy, making possession of two ounces or less of cannabis punishable by a $200 fine with no jail time.

Illinois, by contrast, became the 11th state to legalize marijuana for adult use last month, with the governor signing a wide-ranging bill that will also provide for mass expungements and establish programs meant to help individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition participate in the legal industry. That law goes into effect on January 1, 2020.

Meanwhile, a decriminalization bill that was approved by the Texas House of Representatives in April stalled and died in that state’s Senate.

New Mexico Governor Forms Working Group To Legalize Marijuana In 2020

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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