Can I Bring Marijuana into New Mexico Legally?
While marijuana is legalized for medical use, you cannot take your medical marijuana out of the state nor bring it into the state – even if you purchase it from another state where it is legal to do so. It is imperative that you understand how marijuana laws work in the state because, even if you have a medical-use card, you can lose your card and possibly spend time in prison for violating these very strict laws.
The state of New Mexico is one of many that now allows marijuana for medical use. While they have not legalized the recreational use of cannabis, patients with medical use cards may purchase marijuana from state-approved and licensed dispensaries. To get a medical use license, you must have one of the state-approved medical conditions – such as certain forms of cancer.
Even though you have the right to possess and purchase marijuana for medical use, you cannot take your marijuana out of the state or bring it in from another state. Doing so violates state laws and federal laws.
Understanding the Laws Regarding the Transport of Marijuana
Whether you are an active-use patient or the caregiver of an active-use patient, you can only purchase medical marijuana from New Mexico state-approved dispensaries. The package must be unopened and intact if officers pull your vehicle over, and you must have a medical use license on you along with proper labeling on the product showing it was purchased legally in the state.
Patients and caregivers cannot take their cannabis out of the state, and they cannot transport any into the state whatsoever. Doing so is considered drug trafficking, and depending on the amount you are arrested with at the time you enter the state, you could face felony charges.
Transporting into the State Might Violate Federal Laws
New Mexico, and a few neighboring states, has allowed the medical use of marijuana, but the federal government still sees cannabis as a controlled substance, which makes it illegal to possess, sell, purchase, or distribute. If you were to transport cannabis on the interstate into New Mexico and you are arrested while doing so, federal law applies.
Federal laws are stricter than state laws, which means you face enhanced penalties.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is considered a Schedule I substance that is in the same category as heroin and LSD. It is one of the highest controlled categories. And if you are charged with trafficking a Schedule I substance by taking marijuana into the state, you could face these penalties:
- First Trafficking Offense – Anywhere from five to 40 years imprisonment, depending on the volume carried at the time of your arrest. If you were to cause an accident because you were under the influence at the time you were trafficking, then the penalty increases further.
- Second Trafficking Offense – For your second offense, you have an automatic minimum of ten years imprisonment with up to life imprisonment.
Most likely, you would be carrying an amount for personal use – if you bought marijuana in another state to bring back home. Therefore, it is likely you would have under 50 kilograms. While this is not a lot, the federal government considers it a serious offense. If you carry under 50 kilograms, you can still face up to five years imprisonment and a fine of up to $250,000 as a first-time offender. For your second or subsequent offense, you can face up to ten years imprisonment and a fine of up to $500,000 – double what a first offense is.
New Mexico Could Charge You with Drug Trafficking Too
You might not be on the interstate, but that doesn’t mean you will not face harsh penalties. The state of New Mexico also has laws that are equally harsh regarding trafficking drugs in and out of the state. If you are charged with trafficking by the state of New Mexico, it is considered a second-degree felony, which is punishable by up to 9 years imprisonment for your first offense and up to 18 years imprisonment for your subsequent offenses.
The Consequences of a Drug Crime Conviction
Whether you face a misdemeanor or felony, you should never assume that you will receive leniency as a first-time offender. In reality, the courts take drug crimes seriously, and they use those caught as examples to the public. This means you may receive a full sentencing recommendation.
If convicted of a drug crime, it will affect you the rest of your life. Here’s just some of the ways this conviction can impact you decades after you have served your sentence:
- Being Unable to Vote: If you are convicted of a felony, you might forfeit your right to vote.
- Being Unable to Own or Possess Firearms: As a citizen of this country, you have the right to own and possess firearms. However, the moment you are convicted of a felony, you can lose that right until over a decade has passed since serving your sentence.
- Being Unable to Find Gainful Employment: On most job applications you are asked about prior criminal convictions. Legally, you must answer honestly. Therefore, doing so could disqualify you for many employment opportunities.
- Being Unable to Join the Military: Likewise, if you wanted to join the U.S. military, you are permanently barred if you have a criminal conviction. Instances involving a misdemeanor might still allow you to join as long as you can prove that you have completed your sentence, but a felony will disqualify you.
Avoid the long-term consequences of a drug conviction by having a defense attorney by your side. Whether you were transporting medical marijuana into the state or you had removed it from the state for a family trip, you need an attorney with experience handling these types of cases. The attorneys at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can assist you with your case.
Book a free case evaluation now by calling our office, or you can request more information about our drug crime defense online.