Possession of a Controlled Substance in New Mexico

All states regulate and control the possession of controlled dangerous substances (CDS), though each differs in its exact definition of CDS and the penalties for possession. New Mexico classifies not only well-known drugs like marijuana, heroin, and cocaine as CDS, but also the compounds used to manufacture them.

This article discusses the illegal possession of CDS only. Illegally making or selling CDS carries different penalties. For more information on illegal CDS manufacture and sale, see Sale of Controlled Substances in New Mexico.                                                                                                                                           

Also, while marijuana is considered a CDS, this article does not cover New Mexico’s marijuana possession and sale laws. To learn more about that topic, see New Mexico Marijuana Laws.

How New Mexico Classifies CDS

New Mexico divides CDS into five “Schedules.” Schedule I lists the most dangerous drugs, which have a high probability of abuse and addiction, and no recognized medical value. Schedules II, III, IV, and V decrease in dangerousness and probability of abuse, and increase in recognized medical uses. 

If you’ve been arrested for illegal CDS possession, you’ll need to consult the New Mexico Code that lists precisely which drugs fit into each group. Go to the statute (N.M. Stat. Ann. §§ 30-31-5, -6, -7, -8, -9, & -10) and find the substance you're charged with possessing -- it will be listed under one of the five classes.

Penalties for Illegal CDS Possession

It is illegal in New Mexico to possess CDS without a valid prescription. Penalties vary according to the type and amount of CDS involved in the violation, as described below. (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-31-23.)

Schedule I, II, III, or IV CDS

Possessing a Schedule I, II, III, or IV CDS—excluding methamphetamine and other CDS specified below—incurs a fine of at least $500 (and up to $1,000), up to one year in jail, or both.

Methamphetamine and other specified CDS

Possessing any of the following CDS incurs a fine of up to $5,000, up to 18 months in prison, or both.

  • Methamphetamine
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Flunitrazepam
  • Gamma hydroxybutyric acid (GHB)
  • Gamma butyrolactone
  • 1-4 butane diol

Possessing CDS Within a Drug-Free School Zone

 Possessing CDS within a drug-free school zone is punished according to the schedule of the CDS involved. (N.M. Stat. Ann. § 30-31-23(F).)

Schedule I, II, III, or IV CDS

Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to 18 months in prison, or both.


Penalties include a fine of up to $5,000, up to three years in prison, or both.

Talk to an Attorney

CDS possession convictions can incur harsh fines and long periods of incarceration. A local lawyer who practices CDS defense will review the facts of your case, explain your options, and advise you of the possible consequences.

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