SANTA FE, New Mexico — New Mexico legalized the possession of recreational cannabis on Tuesday and allowed hobbyists to start growing their own weed at home, as regulators prepared for the launch next year of recreational marijuana sales.
The milestone was celebrated by cannabis consumers and advocates for criminal justice reform that believe poor and minority communities have been prosecuted disproportionately in campaigns against illicit marijuana.
As of Tuesday, the scent of marijuana no longer serves as adequate cause for searching vehicles and property in New Mexico.
Under the "New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act," residents who are 21 and older are allowed to possess and buy up to two ounces of cannabis, 16 grams of cannabis extract, or up to 800 milligrams of edible cannabis, in one purchase. State residents can have a bigger supply of cannabis in their homes.
Those 21 and older and grow up to six plants per person, or 12 plants per household without a permit. The cannabis plants must be grown in discretion, meaning a neighbor cannot see a person's cannabis plant maturing.
Under the act, law enforcement can't stop or detain a person solely if they smell like cannabis. However, if a person is caught driving under the influence of cannabis, a DWI is possible.
While personal recreational use became legal Tuesday, licenses to sell cannabis are expected to start no later than April 1.
New Mexico joined a new wave of states that have legalized marijuana through the legislative process rather than by ballot initiative. That has allowed for innovations such as marijuana “microbusiness" licenses that will allow up to 200 pot plants at seed-to-sales cannabis operations.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham heralded the day as "a huge step forward both for social justice and economic development in our state.”
After legalization efforts repeatedly faltered in the Legislature, Lujan Grisham called a special legislative session in March to tackle cannabis reforms and signed a bill in April.
“We are proactively stopping the disproportionate criminalization of people of color for cannabis possession, and we are building a new industry," Lujan Grisham said in a news release.