SANTA FE, New Mexico (Oct. 4, 2019) – A New Mexico judge has held that the state must accept non-residents into its medical marijuana program. The move will dramatically expand the medicinal cannabis market in the state despite federal prohibition and further nullify the unconstitutional federal prohibition of cannabis in practice.

On Sept. 23, Santa Fe District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid affirmed a permanent writ of mandamus officially eliminating the residency requirement to participate in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program.

The judge’s decision comes after two Texans and an Arizonan who had been denied medical marijuana cards filed a request for a writ of mandamus granting them access to the program. The updated Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act expanded the state’s marijuana program and became effective June 14, 2019. The updated Act includes language that changed the definition of a qualified patient from a “New Mexico resident” to a “person.”

“it is applicable to everyone. I think the law is clear,” Biedscheid said.“I look to the language of that statute first and foremost to determine legislative intent.”

With the judge granting the writ of mandamus, the state’s medical-marijuana program is expected to expand significantly, despite continued federal prohibition.


Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains complete prohibition of marijuana. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate cannabis within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

The expansion of New Mexico’s medical cannabis program removes another lawyer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the Land of Enchantment, but federal prohibition remains in effect. This is significant because FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. When states stop enforcing marijuana laws, they sweep away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.


New Mexico joins a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice.

Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska were the first states to legalize recreational cannabis, and California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts joined them after ballot initiatives in favor of legalization passed in November 2016. Michigan followed suit when voters legalized cannabis for general use in 2018. Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through a legislative act in 2018. Illinois followed suit this year.

With 33 states including allowing cannabis for medical use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.

“The lesson here is pretty straightforward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

The expansion of New Mexico’s medical marijuana program demonstrates another important strategic reality. Once a legalizes marijuana – even if only in a very limited way – it tends to eventually expand. As the state tears down some barriers, markets develop and demand expands. That creates pressure to further relax state law. These new laws represent a further erosion of unconstitutional federal marijuana prohibition.

Mike Maharrey