SANTA FE, N.M. (April 1, 2022) – Beginning today, adults 21 and older can buy marijuana and marijuana products in New Mexico despite ongoing federal prohibition on the same.

Last year, New Mexico legalized marijuana for adult use. Under the law, adults 21 and over can possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana, 16 grams of cannabis concentrates, and 800 milligrams of infused edibles. The law also allows home cultivation of up to six plants per person for personal use with a limit of 12 plants per household. The law also created a regulatory structure for commercial cultivation and retail sales of marijuana in the state. The law went into effect last June with retail sales to begin no later than April 1.

With retail outlets now in operation, adults can legally purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana and/or up to 16 grams of cannabis extract from licensed retailers – despite a full federal prohibition on the same.

New Mexico Cannabis Control Division Deputy Director Victor Reyes told a New Mexico news station that the agency has already issued nearly 100 licenses for cannabis producers, manufacturers and retailers.

Two Native American tribes are also set to jump into the industry. According to Marijuana Moment, Pueblos of Picuris and Pojoaque signed an intergovernmental agreement with the state that will allow them to regulate their own marijuana enterprises operating within their communities and apply for state licenses for any business they would conduct outside tribal lands.

Federal law enforcement operates on tribal lands. The intergovernmental agreement along with two Obama-era DoJ directives will allow the tribes to enter the market.

“Our intergovernmental agreements create the kind of transparency and give direct knowledge to the feds that we intend to protect our sovereign nations, that they are actively engaged in our medical and recreational cannabis programs, that these are their rights under those agreements,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.



All of this is illegal according to the federal government.

Under the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970, the federal government maintains a 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 legalization of marijuana in New Mexico removed a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana in the state even though 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.


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 in 2019. New Jersey, Montana and Arizona all legalized recreational marijuana through ballot measures in the 2020 election. Earlier this year, New YorkNew MexicoVirginia and Connecticut legalized marijuana through legislative action.

With 37 states allowing cannabis for medical use, and 18 legalizing for adult recreational use, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition anymore.

The lesson here is pretty straightforward. As Tenth Amendment Center Executive Director Michael Boldin noted, “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.”

Mike Maharrey