Legislature: Cannabis Expungement Bill Heads To Governor’s Desk


Social justice legislation expunging criminal records for acts no longer illegal under the proposed Cannabis Regulation Act, and supporting reentry into employment for those with non-violent criminal records, passed the House of Representatives 41-28 today. The measure passed the Senate earlier today with a 23-13 vote and will now go to the governor’s desk. 

Senate Bill 2: Expungement of Certain Criminal Records is sponsored by Representatives Andrea Romero (D-Santa Fe) and Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque)Senate Majority Whip Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque), and Senators Katy Duhigg (D-Albuquerque), and Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Albuquerque). The bill contains two key criminal justice reforms: 

  • Creating a procedure to expunge arrest and conviction records for conduct that would no longer be illegal under the Cannabis Regulation Act, as well as calling for a review of all persons currently or previously incarcerated for such acts for possible dismissal, expungement, or redesignation. This reform will help repair the damage of the failed ‘War on Drugs” and the criminalization of our communities for minor cannabis charges.
  • Rightly revising the currently short list of criminal records that cannot be considered in an application for public employment, licensure, or other authority to practice a trade, business or profession. Similar legislation in other states has been shown to improve employment opportunities for people with criminal records, without compromising public safety. 

“By legalizing and decriminalizing cannabis, we are saying ‘enough’ to the harmful and devastating War on Drugs that has incarcerated and penalized thousands of New Mexicans for minor possession charges,” said Rep. Romero. “To ensure equity and social justice around legal cannabis, we must rightly provide a path to expungement for those convicted of acts no longer illegal under the Cannabis Regulation Act.” 

“After decades of discriminating against our communities of color for minor cannabis offenses, we must ensure that those who would not be arrested today, do not continue to be incarcerated or held back by criminal records for acts that are no longer crimes,” said Rep. Martínez. “For those who have already served their time for offenses unrelated to cannabis, this bill also provides a reasonable pathway to gainful employment based on a fair vetting process, supporting them as they rehabilitate and contribute to society.” 

Criminals with a history of violence or sentences for other crimes will still serve their time under this bill. Expungement, dismissal or redesignation under SB 2 are solely for minor cannabis offenses, and any sentencing for non-cannabis offenses under a case with multiple charges still holds.  

Crimes that can no longer be considered for employment of licensure under SB 2 include records of arrest not followed by a valid conviction, convictions that have been sealed, dismissed, or pardoned, juvenile adjudications, or convictions for a crime that is not job-related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity.

Members of the public can track the legislation of the 2021 Special Session on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings.