Fast forward to 1978 when New Mexico passed the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, making the state the first in the nation to recognize the medical benefits of marijuana. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration and distributing marijuana from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the nascent program had federal backing by the end of the year, but it was too late for Lynn Pierson, a cancer patient and major proponent of the bill, who died before any cannabis was actually delivered to the state. However, hundreds of cancer patients were served by the Lynn Pierson Therapeutic Research Program, which sourced and distributed marijuana to New Mexico residents for almost 10 years.
Learn more about marijuana in New Mexico
Just this year, marijuana laws in New Mexico toyed with legalization when a new cannabis bill passed the House of Representatives but stalled in the state's Senate Finance Committee. Seeing the promise of a recreational law, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has promised to add the issue to next year's 2020 legislative agenda. As a precursor to next year's vote, Governor Lujan Grisham in April decriminalized marijuana possession of up to a half ounce as a misdemeanor offense carrying just a $50 fine. The bill also decriminalizes the possession of drug paraphernalia and will go into effect on July 1, 2019.