New Mexico Border Police Say They Will Still Arrest People For Weed Despite Legalization
New Mexico's adult-use cannabis industry has been seeing green since dispensaries opened for business last weekend, but for federal border police, it's business as usual
Published on April 15, 2022

New Mexico just opened the doors on the country’s newest legal cannabis market, but federal border police intend to keep arresting people for weed anyway.

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials released a statement this week warning New Mexico residents that border police have the authority to continue enforcing federal prohibition laws. The CBP operates several highway checkpoints along I-10 in the southwestern corner of the state, which are mainly intended to stop illegal immigrants from entering the US. 

According to Title 21 of the Code of Federal Regulations, border police also have the authority to seize any illegal drugs that they discover during routine checkpoint stops. And although adult-use cannabis is currently legal in New Mexico, the federal government still prohibits marijuana in any form. This prohibition allows border cops to arrest and prosecute people for weed, and judging by CBP's new statement, they intend to continue doing so.

“Border Patrol agents have drug enforcement authority,” CBP officials said in a statement, according to Border Report. “Marijuana is still a prohibited drug under Schedule 1 of The United States Controlled Substances Act. Therefore, U.S. Border Patrol agents will continue to take appropriate enforcement action against those who are encountered in possession of marijuana anywhere in the United States.”

According to early predictions, more than 40% of New Mexico's legal cannabis will be bought by out-of-state residents. These shoppers probably won’t be coming from neighboring Arizona and Colorado, where weed is legal, or from Mexico, a country that is finally gearing up to fully legalize cannabis sales. Oklahoma's medical marijuana market is also so robust that Oklahomans don't need to cross the border to score some quality bud. 

But New Mexico also shares over 500 miles of border with Texas, a state that continues to prohibit weed. Texas cops will certainly be on the lookout for locals returning home with huge hauls of New Mexican weed, and cross-border shoppers will also need to keep their eyes peeled for border police. New Mexico police also warned cannabis consumers that they will be on watch for anyone who is driving while stoned, which is still illegal.

Outside of this dire threat from the feds, New Mexico's legal pot market is off to a sunny start. By the close of the weekend, dispensaries made $5.2 million in combined adult-use and medical pot purchases. The state's legal pot shops were so well-prepared, in fact, that they were actually able to keep their shelves stocked during the initial sales rush.

“In every state that launched adult-use sales before New Mexico, some retailers sold out on opening day,” said Cannabis Control Division Director Kristen Thomson in a press release. “In New Mexico, that was simply not the case. Customers and patients across the state were all able to get the products or medicine they wanted and needed.”

“New Mexico’s launch of recreational cannabis has been one of the most successful, if not the most, of any state,” said Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in a statement. “Not to mention that we beat Colorado’s numbers for first-day sales. New Mexicans demonstrated the strength of the demand for this exciting new industry, and it is clear that adult-use cannabis is going to be a contributor to our diverse state economy.”

Chris Moore
Chris Moore is a New York-based writer who has written for Mass Appeal while also mixing records and producing electronic music.
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