It never fails to surprise me how much New Mexico and Texas, two states that share a border, differ in their views when it comes to cannabis. New Mexico made cannabis legal for recreational use as of June 29, and recreational sales began April 1. In contrast, cannabis is still largely illegal in Texas.
I originally hail from ye olde Texas and moved here for university (go Lobos), where I witnessed a stark difference in the attitude toward cannabis. Cannabis is not something one just saw someone smoking on the street in Texas (although that’s still technically illegal in New Mexico). There, smoking is treated with much secrecy with cannabis being reduced to a smell that lingers in high school bathrooms. Barring people with a select few medical conditions, the most someone can do legally in Texas is consume CBD oil.
While here, I vividly remember the first time I saw someone just casually smoking near a cop. I was both very concerned for this person and in awe until I remembered that I was indeed in New Mexico and not Texas (though I’m still not sure how many New Mexicans can bring themselves to smoke brazenly near cops).
See, in Texas, possession of even two ounces or less of cannabis flower is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in prison and a fee of up to $2,000. This is striking compared to New Mexico where two ounces is now the maximum amount of flower someone who is 21 or older can buy at once (and they can have more at home). This seems reasonable to me. As long as you aren’t abusing the privilege, it's okay. There are many ways to purchase and safely ingest cannabis.
Further legalization of cannabis for more medical reasons show that Texas is progressing in its own way. The state did recently (meaning only last September) legalize THC oil for treatment in an incredibly narrow selection of mostly incurable and/or incredibly painful diseases. However, Texas is still very slow-going and quite behind other states in the U.S., like Colorado, Washington and, now, New Mexico.
I mean, only within the past year did New Mexico become one of 18 states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. I find it frankly a bit insane how far behind Texas is on legalizing cannabis compared to New Mexico or even other states like Colorado, which legalized cannabis in 2012. In the nine years since Colorado did it, Texas hasn’t managed to really make any headway.
Hopefully, in the future — however far that may be — Texas will make some progress on the road to legalizing cannabis. Until then, I have become far more accustomed to the freedoms New Mexico has with cannabis, though some things still do surprise me (like seeing people casually selling weed at pop-up markets and one very memorable moment of someone just shouting they were selling weed on campus).
If any Texans want to purchase and partake in some weed, I recommend taking the drive to New Mexico. Just don’t take any back with you.
Elizabeth Secor is a freelance reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @esecor2003