Across State Lines

State weed regulators gets first real hit against the illicit market, alleging products sold in New Mexico came from California

State cannabis regulators on Thursday revoked the license of an Albuquerque dispensary after the Cannabis Control Division determined the business had out-of-state weed products “marked with California stamping” on hand during an inspection.

“Whether or not this California product was for commercial or personal use, the product was found during the inspection by the Division staff in the Respondent’s display case,” a final decision from the division reads.

Representatives of Respondent Paradise Distro LLC did not show up to  an April hearing regarding the division’s findings, which lead to a final decision noting Paradise had cannabis products “not native to New Mexico” and “$56,374.84 in cash and $8,338.94 in additional funds” that were not reported in BioTrack—the state’s seed-to-sale tracking system.

The phone number listed for Paradise Distro is no longer in service and its website is not functional.

A news release from the Regulation and Licensing Department—which oversees the Cannabis Control Division—says the incident marks the first license the department has revoked since the 2021 Cannabis Regulation was enacted.

The news comes about two weeks after nearly 100 cannabis business owners signed a letter asking the Regulation and Licensing Department and Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to temporarily stop issuing licenses until regulators could get a handle on the illicit market.

Jessie Hunt, a spokeswoman for Schwazze—the company that ran point on the letter— tells SFR revoking the Paradise Distro license is “a step in the right direction,” but that there’s more work to be done, pointing to the three months between the disciplinary hearing and the license revocation.

“The things that we look forward to are faster timelines, stiffer penalties that actually serve as deterrents and overall better coordination of CCD leveraging partners to help get this done within the state,” she says.

New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Director Ben Lewinger, who did not sign the letter to the governor, tells SFR in a text message he’s pleased with the work of cannabis regulators.

“Quick and decisive action against bad operators that break the law is what we need to responsibly grow the industry,” he says. “Good work, CCD!”

Regulation and Licensing Superintendent Linda Trujillo signaled, with a statement in the department’s news release, that the department plans to keep throwing the book at illegal cannabis operators.

“This revocation should serve as a warning to those selling or receiving out-of-state cannabis products,” Trujillo says in the news release. “Our compliance officers are ramping up inspections and we will work to remove bad actors from within the New Mexico cannabis industry.”

According to the department’s records, eight other cannabis businesses have faced or are facing disciplinary action for various violations since the law took effect. Santa Fe-based Best Daze, for example, agreed in September 2022 to pay $30,000 in fines for four violations, which included large amounts of untraced or unlabeled cannabis flower. Golden Roots, an Albuquerque company, faced disciplinary action in January 2023 for a similar violation. SFR reported on both instances in previous coverage.

The outcomes of the other alleged violations are still unclear, however, and Cannabis Control Division staff did not agree to an interview request after Thursday’s news release because the division was holding a hiring event. (The division has still yet to hire a devoted director since its last one quit in March of this year, though this is not one of the positions offered at the event)

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