Updated on May 26, 2020. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Cannabis in New Mexico is illegal for recreational use, but decriminalization went into effect in July 2019. A bill to legalize recreational use passed the House in March 2019. Medical use was legalized in 2007.
Under New Mexico’s Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, qualifying patients suffering from a state-approved debilitating condition are allowed to possess up to 8 ounces of medical cannabis over a 90-day period.
March 13, 2007, “The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act”, Senate Bill 523, was approved in New Mexico (effective July 01, 2007), effectively removing all state-level criminal penalties on the use and possession of marijuana by patients “in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments”.
The New Mexico Department of Health established a Patient Registry Program, registering and licensing patients, caregivers, and providers. Patients with a valid physicians certification and NMMMP registry identification card may purchase cannabis from a state-licensed producer and may possess no more than six ounces of medical cannabis. Upon approval of New Mexico patient registry, patients will receive information from the state, with instructions on how to contact licensed New Mexico producers and caregivers. Patients choosing to cultivate their own medical marijuana must first apply for a license — Medical Cannabis Personal Production Application.
“The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act” — SENATE BILL 523
AN ACT RELATING TO CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES; ALLOWING THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS; ENACTING THE LYNN AND ERIN COMPASSIONATE USE ACT; AMENDING PROVISIONS OF THE CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT; PROVIDING PENALTIES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF NEW MEXICO:
Section 1. SHORT TITLE
Sections 1 through 7 of this act may be cited as the “Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act” in honor of Lynn Pierson and Erin Armstrong.
Section 2. PURPOSE OF ACT
The purpose of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act is to allow the beneficial use of medical cannabis in a regulated system for alleviating symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments.
Section 3. DEFINITIONS As used in the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act:
B. “debilitating medical condition” means:
(3) multiple sclerosis;
(4) damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, with objective neurological indication of intractable spasticity;
(6) positive status for human immunodeficiency virus or acquired immune deficiency syndrome;
(7) admitted into hospice care in accordance with rules promulgated by the department; or
(8) any other medical condition, medical treatment or disease as approved by the department;
C. “department” means the department of health;
D. “licensed producer” means any person or association of persons within New Mexico that the department determines to be qualified to produce, possess, distribute and dispense cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act and that is licensed by the department;
E. “practitioner” means a person licensed in New Mexico to prescribe and administer drugs that are subject to the Controlled Substances Act;
F. “primary caregiver” means a resident of New Mexico who is at least eighteen years of age and who has been designated by the patient’s practitioner as being necessary to take responsibility for managing the well-being of a qualified patient with respect to the medical use of cannabis pursuant to the provisions of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act;
G. “qualified patient” means a resident of New Mexico who has been diagnosed by a practitioner as having a debilitating medical condition and has received written certification and a registry identification card issued pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act; and
H. “written certification” means a statement in a patient’s medical records or a statement signed by a patient’s practitioner that, in the practitioner’s professional opinion, the patient has a debilitating medical condition and the practitioner believes that the potential health benefits of the medical use of cannabis would likely outweigh the health risks for the patient. A written certification is not valid for more than one year from the date of issuance.
Section 4. EXEMPTION FROM CRIMINAL AND CIVIL PENALTIES FOR THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS.
A. A qualified patient shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner for the possession of or the medical use of cannabis if the quantity of cannabis does not exceed an adequate supply.
B. A qualified patient’s primary caregiver shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty in any manner for the possession of cannabis for medical use by the qualified patient if the quantity of cannabis does not exceed an adequate supply.
C. Subsection A of this section shall not apply to a qualified patient under the age of eighteen years, unless:
(1) the qualified patient’s practitioner has explained the potential risks and benefits of the medical use of cannabis to the qualified patient and to a parent, guardian or person having legal custody of the qualified patient; and
(2) a parent, guardian or person having legal custody consents in writing to:
(a) allow the qualified patient’s medical use of cannabis;
(b) serve as the qualified patient’s primary caregiver; and
(c) control the dosage and the frequency of the medical use of cannabis by the qualified patient.
D. A qualified patient or a primary caregiver shall be granted the full legal protections provided in this section if the patient or caregiver is in possession of a registry identification card. If the qualified patient or primary caregiver is not in possession of a registry identification card, the patient or caregiver shall be given an opportunity to produce the registry identification card before any arrest or criminal charges or other penalties are initiated.
E. A practitioner shall not be subject to arrest or prosecution, penalized in any manner or denied any right or privilege for recommending the medical use of cannabis or providing written certification for the medical use of cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.
F. A licensed producer shall not be subject to arrest, prosecution or penalty, in any manner, for the production, possession, distribution or dispensing of cannabis pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.
G. Any property interest that is possessed, owned or used in connection with the medical use of cannabis, or acts incidental to such use, shall not be harmed, neglected, injured or destroyed while in the possession of state or local law enforcement officials. Any such property interest shall not be forfeited under any state or local law providing for the forfeiture of property except as provided in the Forfeiture Act. Cannabis, paraphernalia or other property seized from a qualified patient or primary caregiver in connection with the claimed medical use of cannabis shall returned immediately upon the determination by a court or prosecutor that the qualified patient or primary caregiver is entitled to the protections of the provisions of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, as may be evidenced by a failure to actively investigate the case, a decision not to prosecute, the dismissal of charges or acquittal.
H. A person shall not be subject to arrest or prosecution for a cannabis-related offense for simply being in the presence of the medical use of cannabis as permitted under the provisions of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.
Section 5. PROHIBITIONS, RESTRICTIONS AND LIMITATIONS ON THE MEDICAL USE OF CANNABIS–CRIMINAL PENALTIES.
A. Participation in a medical use of cannabis program by a qualified patient or primary caregiver does not relieve the qualified patient or primary caregiver from:
(1) criminal prosecution or civil penalties for activities not authorized in the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act;
(2) liability for damages or criminal prosecution arising out of the operation of a vehicle while under the influence of cannabis; or
(3) criminal prosecution or civil penalty for possession or use of cannabis:
(a) in a school bus or public vehicle;
(b) on school grounds or property;
(c) in the workplace of the qualified patient’s or primary caregiver’s employment; or (d) at a public park, recreation center, youth center or another public place.
B. A person who makes a fraudulent representation to a law enforcement officer about the person’s participation in a medical use of cannabis program to avoid arrest or prosecution for a cannabis-related offense is guilty of a petty misdemeanor and shall be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of Section 31-19-1 NMSA 1978.
C. If a licensed producer sells, distributes, dispenses or transfers cannabis to a person not approved by the department pursuant to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act or obtains or transports cannabis outside New Mexico in violation of federal law, the licensed producer shall be subject to arrest, prosecution and civil or criminal penalties pursuant to state law.