New Mexico became the 18th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use Monday.
Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Cannabis Regulation Act into law after the state’s legislature approved the bill on Apr. 1. The act decriminalizes cannabis use for residents 21 and older, and establishes the necessary framework to allow for commercial production and sales, which will begin no later than April 1, 2022.
New Mexico is the third state to legalize marijuana for recreational use in the past two weeks. New York did so Mar. 31 after Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law, and Virginia became the first southern state to do so one week later.
“This is a significant victory for New Mexico and my signing pen is ready,” Lujan Grisham tweeted late on Mar. 31 after the legislature passed the bill. (RELATED: Was Marijuana The Most Popular Thing On The Ballot In 2018?)
Change never comes easily and rarely does it occur as quickly as we might like.
But with this major step forward, we are signaling more clearly than ever before that we are ready, as a state, to truly break new ground, to think differently about ourselves and our future.
— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) April 1, 2021
“This reform will help diversify our economy, create tens of thousands of jobs, and generate millions in revenue that will be reinvested into our communities,” said New Mexico Democratic state Sen. Katy Duhigg after its passage.
It passed the state Senate 23-15 before passing the state House 38-32.
Marijuana legalization is exceedingly popular among voters of all political stripes, and multiple states have sought to do so since Washington and Colorado became the first two to adopt legalization in 2012. Voters in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana and South Dakota voted to legalize marijuana in 2020.
The Democratic-led House of Representatives voted to decriminalize marijuana last year, though the legislation was not voted on in the Republican-led Senate. President Joe Biden, once staunchly opposed to legalization, has expressed openness to decriminalizing the drug, even as his administration has fired staffers over their admitted past marijuana use.
Despite the increasing support, marijuana still remains illegal on the federal level, locking out marijuana businesses from interstate commerce and access to traditional banking services.
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