Ordinance No. C2021-3; Repeal of Marijuana Possession Ordinance and adoption of Smoking Cannabis in Public Ordinance
The “Cannabis Regulation Act,” adopted in the 2021 Special Session establishes a comprehensive scheme allowing for the distribution and sale of cannabis products in New Mexico. It includes creation of a "Cannabis Control Division" within the Regulation and Licensing Department which will be responsible for the licensing and regulation of businesses engaged in cannabis production, distribution, and sale. The Act also eliminates criminal penalties for the possession of two ounces or less of cannabis, or 800 milligrams or less of edible cannabis. Possession of cannabis by persons under the age of 21 remains illegal, however it is a civil rather than a criminal offense and the maximum penalty is "attendance at a four-hour evidence-based drug education and legal rights program at no cost to the person or four hours of community service." An additional civil violation in the Act is smoking cannabis in a public place which carries a $50 civil fine.
The Cannabis Control Division must have a regulatory scheme in place that provides for retail sales to begin no later than April 1, 2022. However, the provisions of the Cannabis Regulation Act that do not have a designated effective date later than June 29, 2021 have an effective date of June 29, 2021 pursuant to Article 4, §23 of the New Mexico Constitution This includes those provisions decriminalizing possession of less than two ounces of cannabis. Therefore, the section of the Gallup City Code which prohibits possession of one ounce or less of marijuana will become null and void on June 29.
The Act allows local jurisdictions to adopt “time, place and manner rules that do not conflict with the Cannabis Regulation Act.” Therefore, it is recommended that smoking cannabis in a public place be made a civil offense in the Gallup City Code with the same $50 civil fine as the Act. Individuals smoking or vaping cannabis products in public areas could become a public nuisance and citations would be processed more efficiently in Municipal Court than in Magistrate Court.
- Fiscal Impact:
- Approval of the ordinance
- Speaker's Name
- Curtis Hayes