As 2017 begins, New Mexico's legislature considers the legalization of marijuana for residents over the age of 21. The state's current economic climate could desperately use the money derived from taxing cannabis products. While the legislation will not be up until February 16, passing the law would allow adults to possess, purchase, and use specified amounts of cannabis. While the development of the tax, licensing, and distribution regulations would take some time, eventually recreational marijuana stores will be available to the public.

While it's too soon to tell whether or not legal recreational marijuana is in the cards for the state of New Mexico, residents and tourists that carry medical marijuana cards have been able to purchase from dispensaries since 2014. Since June 2016, nearly 27,000 patients have registered for medicinal marijuana cards resulting in an increase in registered licensed dispensaries.

Card-carrying patients are legally permitted to possess up to eight ounces of medical cannabis over a 90-day period and 16 cannabis plants for home cultivation. Patients are not permitted to use cannabis in public spaces or near any schools or areas where children may be present.

It is also illegal to drive to under the influence of marijuana and can be prosecuted as a DUI for card carriers. Even with a marijuana card residents and tourists are not permitted to take any amount of marijuana outside of New Mexico State Lines. Card-carrying patients are also exempt from owning and carrying any form of firearms.

With the recreational cannabis laws under review within the next 30 days, it's important to stay informed on the development of cannabis laws prior to purchasing or using cannabis. Laws regarding the use of marijuana in New Mexico are constantly evolving, which is why proper education is the only way to consistently avoid federal interference.