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New Mexico Legalizes Recreational Adult-Use of Cannabis, Related Criminal Records Expunged

On April 12, 2021, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Cannabis Regulation Act (HB 2) legalizing recreational adult use of cannabis in New Mexico. Under the Act, and unless there is an alternate agreement between the employer and employee, employers may:

  • Prohibit employees from being impaired by, intoxicated by, or possessing cannabis in the workplace or during work hours; 
  • Take adverse employment action against an employee for being impaired by, intoxicated by, or having cannabis at work or during work hours;
  • Refuse to commit any act that would cause them to be non-compliant with federal law or federal regulations, or that would result in loss of a federal contract or funding; or
  • Have a written, zero-tolerance policy for cannabis and under it, discipline or fire an employee based on a positive drug test that indicates any amount of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol metabolite;

However, the Act does not invalidate, diminish, or otherwise interfere with any collective bargaining agreement or right.

The governor also signed amended legislation (SB 2), which added new provisions to the state’s Criminal Record Expungement Act for cannabis-related convictions and public records. Under the law, persons charged with a cannabis-related offense that is no longer a crime on the effective date of the Cannabis Regulation Act (or would have been a lesser offense under the Act when it occurred), regardless of conviction, will have their criminal records automatically expunged two years after their arrest or conviction date. If they had multiple charges, then only the portions of the public records related to the cannabis charge will be expunged. For those persons who are under 18, their cannabis-related public records will be kept for the earlier of two years or until they are 18 and will then be automatically expunged (the same caveat applies if there were multiple charges). The public records will also be removed from all statewide criminal databases.

Both pieces of legislation are effective June 29, 2021. Read more on the governor’s website.

HR Works, headquartered in Upstate New York, is a human resource management outsourcing and consulting firm serving clients throughout the United States for over thirty years. HR Works provides scalable strategic human resource management and consulting services, including: affirmative action programs; benefits administration outsourcing; HRIS self-service technology; full-time, part-time and interim on-site HR managers; HR audits; legally reviewed employee handbooks and supervisor manuals; talent management and recruiting services; and training of managers and HR professionals.