New Mexico Cannabis Bill Aims to Curtail Unregulated Market

January 17, 2024 · Ganjapreneur

As New Mexico marks the two-year anniversary of legalizing recreational cannabis, state lawmakers are actively revisiting the regulations governing its sale and use. Spearheaded by Senator Katy Duhigg (D-Albuquerque), the legislative body is set to introduce a comprehensive bill that aims to refine and enhance existing cannabis laws, according to a report from local news outlet KRQE.

A key focus of the bill is the burgeoning illegal cannabis market within New Mexico. Senator Duhigg highlighted the challenges posed by illegal cannabis, particularly with products entering from neighboring states. Duhigg estimates that illicit sales currently account for about one third of the New Mexico cannabis market: to combat this, the bill proposes a clear definition of illegal cannabis and escalates penalties for trafficking, with a special emphasis on repeat offenders.

The proposed legislation also seeks to empower the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) by granting it authority to seize illegal cannabis products found during investigations. This move is intended to prevent these products from filtering into the black market, thereby strengthening the legal cannabis industry.

According to the report, another significant change in the bill involves the easing of licensing restrictions. The initial laws prohibited holding both a cannabis and liquor license simultaneously. Duhigg’s bill revises this, allowing individuals to own licenses for both, though not permitting the serving of both substances at the same location. This change is intended to mitigate public safety risks while providing more flexibility for business owners.

The bill also introduces tighter controls on cannabis advertising and packaging. Aimed at reducing appeal to children, the new rules would ban cartoon imagery and require opaque packaging. While the former is a common regulation in state-legal markets, mandatory opaque packaging would be a more extreme restriction that could hinder consumers’ ability to choose which products to buy — likely benefiting brands that focus more on packaging and presentation than product quality.

Despite the limited duration of the 30-day legislative session, Senator Duhigg expressed optimism about the bill’s prospects. She emphasized the importance of these revisions for the numerous New Mexicans who rely on the cannabis industry for their livelihood. (Full Story)

In category:State Bills
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