New Mexico Legalizes Recreational Cannabis

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On April 12, 2021, Governor Grisham of New Mexico signed the Cannabis Regulation Act (the Act), legalizing the possession of up to two ounces of cannabis, 16 grams of cannabis concentrates, and 800 mg of infused cannabis edibles for individuals age 21 and older.

Under the Act, individuals are permitted to grow up to six mature cannabis plants in their homes. A single household is limited to 12 total plants that must be out of public sight and secured from children. Legal sales are expected to begin by April 1, 2022 but could potentially begin earlier. The state must provide final license rules by January 1, 2022. The Superintendent of the Regulation and Licensing Department, Linda Trujillo, has stated that adults can begin growing cannabis at home and possess up to two ounces of cannabis outside their homes as of June 29th, 2021.

Employer Protections

Barring an agreement otherwise between an employer and an employee:

  • Employers are not restricted in their ability to prohibit or take adverse employment action against an employee based on impairment by or possession of intoxicating substances at work or during work hours.
  • Employers are not required to do anything that would cause them to be noncompliant with or in violation of federal law, federal regulations, or that would result in a loss of a federal contract or funding.
  • The Act does not prevent the right of an employer to adopt and implement a written zero-tolerance policy regarding the use of cannabis products. The policy may permit discipline or termination of an employee based on a positive drug test that indicates any amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol metabolite.

The Act does not apply to any employee that is subject to Title 2 of the federal Railway Labor Act. The Act is not designed to invalidate, diminish, or interfere with a collective bargaining agreement.

Useful Definitions

Adverse employment action is defined as refusing to hire or employ an individual, barring or discharging an individual from employment, requiring an individual to retire, or discriminating against an individual in compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

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