New Mexico legislators are rushing to pre-file a new bill to legalize recreational cannabis in the state, with the goal of squeezing it into the tight 30-day 2020 session. Will it make it through after a similar bill failed in 2019? Supporting lawmakers say they're hopeful, but the head of the powerful Senate Finance Committee tells SFR not to count any chickens just yet. Read this and more regional cannabis news below.

Dreaming of Green Christmas?
A look at the prognosis for New Mexico to legalize cannabis in the legislative session that begins next month

Regional News

Medical cannabis rules vs. house arrest

The New Mexico Legislature passed a bill last session (SB 406) that allows people on parole or in pretrial custody to continue to use medical cannabis, so long as they have a valid medical cannabis card. But prisoners serving time at home under house arrest may not be included in those protections.

Sen. Gerald Ortiz y Pino, who sponsored the bill, previously told NM Political Report that the protections were for people pre-trial or after release from prison, but not during prison. But Sen. Jacob Candelaria is now arguing that medical cannabis should be normalized, and that prisoners should be allowed to continue to use it as medication during incarceration.

Hearing on medical cannabis for pets delayed 

The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory board has delayed a hearing on a petition that would add pets to the state medical cannabis program.

The petition, which was anonymous, asked the state to allow marijuana prescriptions for dogs with epilepsy. So far, no state has authorized medical cannabis for pets, although a few are considering it.

The board delayed the vote due to a lack of a quorum. Chairwoman Laura Brown was the only board member to attend the last meeting and she was forced to postpone several agenda items for at least 30 days.

Testing standards discussed

Producers discussed their concerns about testing standards during a brief public hearing with the state Medical Cannabis Program that was cut short by weather.

Producers argued that proposed microbiological, heavy metal and pesticide testing and labeling standards are problematic and overly strict compared to testing on other types of medication. They also argued that large sample sizes—23 grams per test batch—cut into smaller companies' bottom lines. Generally in the industry, producers submit a 1-2 gram sample for testing.

Dominick Zurlo, who heads the Medical Cannabis Program, said he expects to hold a follow-up hearing in January prior to the upcoming 2020 Legislative session.

Around the Web

California cracks down on illegal dispensaries

Investigators in California served search warrants at 24 unlicensed Los Angeles pot dispensaries last week, seizing about $8.8 million in cannabis products.

Officials also confiscated about 10,000 illegal vape pens and $129,000 in cash.

In California, the black market is about three times as large as the regulated industry, and the crackdown is aimed at protecting the legal market. The state has indicated that more raids on illegal dispensaries are likely in the future.

Don’t fly abroad with cannabis oil

The US State Department is warning international travelers that while CBD-oil products may be legal here, flying abroad with them can cause problems.

In many countries, hemp-derived CBD is still illegal, as is cannabis. The department advises checking with the country you are traveling to before taking the risk.

Domestically, however, the Transportation Security Administration clarified in May that people can bring hemp-based CBD-oil products like vapes on flights within the United States.

Space hemp?

Front Range Biosciences, an agriculture technology company, is sending hemp seeds and coffee to the International Space Station as part of a zero gravity experiment.

Tissue cultures of coffee and hemp will go to the station in March 2020 for 30 days in a special incubator. Astronauts will study the samples to see how genetic mutations arise in the zero-gravity conditions of space.

The goal is to see if any beneficial mutations hold up once the samples are returned to Earth, and to see if there are commercial applications for those mutations.