New Mexico vs. Colorado: How are cannabis laws different?

It grows as it goes.

Grayson Acri, Cannabis Reporter

As the first Colorado-bordering state to legalize recreational cannabis sales, New Mexico began retail cannabis sales April 1. The Colorado cannabis legalization amendment, Amendment 64, was passed in Colorado in 2012 with retail sales starting in 2014. The Cannabis Regulation Act was passed in New Mexico last year. Here are some key facts to know about our southern neighbor’s cannabis policy. 

It is illegal to bring cannabis across state lines, even if both states have it legalized. Cannabis policy applies strictly to the state you’re residing in, and because cannabis is a Schedule I drug federally, it is a felony to traffic weed across state borders.


Further, companies must grow, process, package and sell their products exclusively within state borders. Cross-state companies do exist, but they produce their products in every state they operate in separately. 

New Mexico allows for the possession of 2 ounces of flower cannabis, 16 grams of extract and 800 milligrams of edibles per person in public. Excess may be stored in homes out of public visibility. In comparison, Colorado recently raised its limit of possession to 2 oz of flower or equivalent.

Smoking in public is illegal in both states. Private property is the primary consumption site.

New Mexico is the 18th state to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults. Colorado and Washington were the first, both passing the measure on Nov. 6 ballots in 2012.

Six mature plants and six immature plants are allowed to be grown at home in New Mexico. Colorado allows possession of six plants at once with only three flowering simultaneously.

“Cannabis consumption areas,” meaning venues and lounges that allow customers to consume cannabis on the property, are allowed in New Mexico from the start of recreational legalization. These venues can sell cannabis to customers, but customers can also bring their own. In contrast, Colorado legalized its first cannabis consumption area, called the Tetra Private Lounge and Garden, in Denver in March. Customers have to bring their own cannabis; however, sites will be able to legally sell it as well as allow consumption. 

New Mexico’s excise tax on recreational cannabis starts at 12% plus local taxes and will eventually rise to 18%. Colorado’s excise tax on recreational cannabis is 15% plus local taxes.

Colorado and New Mexico have similar packaging laws: Both states generally require a list of used chemicals and pesticides labeled on resealable and child-resistant packaging with a THC label. 

New Mexico has had a medical cannabis industry since its legalization in 2007. Medical cannabis was legalized in Colorado in 2000.

New Mexico passed a bill last year that will expunge the criminal records of those who were arrested or convicted for cannabis-related offenses if those offenses are no longer illegal or have reduced punishment under the Cannabis Regulation Act. Meanwhile, Colorado’s governor can issue pardons to those who were convicted of possession of 2 ounces or less of cannabis.

Reach Grayson Acri at or on Twitter @Guy1376.