New Mexico Drug Laws

New Mexico has some of the highest rates of drug and alcohol abuse among 12 to 17 year olds in the nation, and the number of New Mexicans of all ages who have drug and alcohol addictions is above the national average.  As you would expect, New Mexico’s substance abuse laws reflect these serious drug and alcohol problems.

Medical Marijuana

In 2007, New Mexico legalized marijuana use for medical purposes.  Patients who have HIV/AIDS, cancer, or certain other chronic diseases may use marijuana with a physician’s supervision.

Good Samaritan Bill

New Mexico also provides protection for individuals who report drug overdoses.  In response to a wave of drug-related deaths, the state legislature enacted a law that prevents people from being prosecuted for drug-related activities when they step forward to get emergency medical care for overdose victims.  The act also protects overdose victims themselves from criminal charges related to the overdose.

Probation and Alternative Sentencing

New Mexico allows for a period of probation in lieu of other sentencing for people who have been found guilty of possessing drugs and other controlled substances for the first time.  Young people under the age of 18 who do not violate the conditions of their probation may have this first offense expunged from their record.

In addition, the state operates a special program for individuals who have been convicted of non-violent drug-related activities.  As an alternative to imprisonment, the program offers a rigorous, 90-day rehabilitation regimen, which incorporates substance abuse treatment and counseling, manual labor, physical training, and training in life skills.

Laws Regarding Detoxification and Rehabilitation

Under the Detoxification Reform Act, an authorized person, such as a police officer, may commit an intoxicated person to a treatment facility, if that person has been disorderly in public, or is a danger to his or her own health or the health and property of others.  Once the intoxicated person has recovered, they may not be forced to stay at the treatment facility without their consent.  Being taken in protective custody to a treatment facility is not to be looked upon as a type of crime or an arrest.

A person under the influence of drugs or alcohol may voluntarily admit themselves to a treatment facility, and they are free to leave the facility when they want to.

The laws of New Mexico do not allow concerned family or friends to commit someone with a problem with drugs or alcohol to a rehabilitation center against their consent.  If you live in New Mexico and have a loved one with a substance abuse problem, your best strategy may be to stage an intervention.

Children who are 14 years or older may voluntarily commit themselves to substance abuse treatment and other forms of counseling.  They do not need the consent of their legal guardians at this point. 

For more state-specific information and information regarding substance abuse and mental health services, you may consult the Behavioral Health Services Division of the New Mexico Human Services Department.  The New Mexico Women’s Justice Project also maintains a set of resources for women struggling with or recovering from addiction.

For more information regarding your particular situation, please consult your attorney.

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