Albuquerque has seen millions of dollars of profit made in the cannabis industry since recreational sales started on Friday, April 1 following the drug’s legalization last summer. This change has brought on a variety of reactions from University of New Mexico students, from indifference to opposition to support.

Katy McCarter, a UNM student studying elementary education, said she doesn’t really mind the legalization because she personally doesn’t intake cannabis but that it can be used to help others destress and unwind, which is especially important for students.

“A lot of people are stressed with school so, I mean, smoking here and there would probably chill you out a little (because) I know college can be stressful and just taking a hit would cool everything down,” McCarter said.



However, McCarter doesn’t want people to do the drug on campus, which isn’t allowed anyway.

Will Martinez, an English literature and film history and criticism student, said he has mixed opinions on the legalization and that the solution to the problems relating to cannabis criminalization, like mass incarceration and the stigma surrounding convicted felons, goes beyond just legalization.

“While I support (legalization) in concept, I don’t really support it in execution because I don’t feel comfortable supporting the industry … especially since we see that a majority of these dispensaries are white-owned and any criminal charges (do) bar you from participation in the industry,” Martinez said.

Criminal records won’t actually prevent individuals from obtaining a professional license, according to an article from KOB4, although these prior convictions do go into consideration when obtaining a license. Of the top executives from 14 of the largest cannabis companies in the U.S. and Canada, 70% are white males, according to an article from Business Insider.

UNM environmental science student Maika Gray said cannabis should be legalized, citing the Prohibition era as an example as to why criminalization doesn’t work.

“I think we should legalize it. Everyone’s smoking anyways. It’s kind of like the whole (Prohibition) thing. It just creates more organized crime and stuff so I think it’s better to just legalize it,” Gray said.

Senate Bill 2, passed signed into New Mexico law on April 12, 2021, expunges any record of a cannabis-related charge that is no longer a crime under the new bill. The expungement has taken or will take place either automatically after the bill was signed into law or, if two years have not passed since the date of arrest or conviction, two years following the date of conviction or date of arrest in instances where there was no conviction.

Martinez sees expungement and exoneration as something that should’ve happened prior to legalization.

“Of course, that’s something that can always be done even now after the legalization … but, in general, I think (the concept of legalization) is a good thing,” Martinez said.

Gray said the money from cannabis sales could directly affect students if money from sales aided in education, such as in Colorado. The first $40 million dollars in cannabis taxes are going toward public schools in Colorado, according to the Colorado Legislative Assembly.

“I know that the economy benefits well (from legalization) like in Colorado … That, in turn, can help education with all the money coming in,” Gray said.

Generally, though, McCarter doesn’t anticipate the law change will affect her day-to-day life. Ultimately, she said it’s “the same thing; just more pot stores open up.”

Martinez expressed an opposing point of view, though, as he said that “there’s really no way” for the law change to not have some effect on his daily life.

“Regardless of what we want to say, a lot of people smoke weed,” Martinez said. “It’s going to affect the people around me and people’s access to it.”

John Scott is the managing editor at the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted at managingeditor@dailylobo.com or on Twitter @JScott050901