Legislators propose changes to New Mexico cannabis laws

[anvplayer video=”5163474″ station=”998122″]

SANTA FE, N.M. — It was just about two years ago when state lawmakers voted to legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico. Legal sales began last April.

The acting director of the Cannabis Control Division says sales are exceeding expectations.

However, state lawmakers are looking to tweak New Mexico’s cannabis laws. There are more than a dozen proposals between the House and the Senate, and many of them are focused on making sure marijuana products don’t end up in the hands of children – either on purpose or on accident.

One proposal from Clovis Rep. Andrea Reeb would modify the state’s cannabis packaging regulations. According to House Bill 157, they wouldn’t be allowed to mimic the design or style of other products that are safe for children to consume. They wouldn’t be able to include cartoon characters, celebrities, or other visuals commonly used to advertise to children.

Andrew Vallejos, Cannabis Control Division acting director, said those guidelines already exist in the state’s rules, but adds that the proposal would enhance those regulations and he welcomes the input from state lawmakers.

“It’s little tweaks like that, that the industry didn’t, you know, that nobody saw the first time around,” Vallejos said. “So you don’t see until you implement it. Any areas where the Legislature can clarify legislative intent, we welcome it.”

More than a dozen elementary school students in Algodones were hospitalized last April after unknowingly eating marijuana candy.

A separate bill from Reeb is hoping to prevent incidents like that. House Bill 156 would mandate the state’s Department of Health to create educational materials for teachers on how to spot cannabis products and when students may have ingested them. It would also require the department to produce targeted ads aimed at preventing students from using cannabis.

The House Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved the cannabis packaging bill, HB 157, Friday. The Cannabis School Use Prevention Resource Act, HB 156, was set to be heard in a House committee Friday, but they ran out of time.

Many proposals are looking to tweak the licensing and regulatory system. There’s also a proposal to redirect some cannabis tax revenue to community reinvestment funds and substance abuse treatment programs. There’s also a bill to clarify the automatic expungement of past cannabis charges.

Most of the bills are still awaiting their first committee hearings.