Outdoor cannabis is soaking in the hot summer sun just as we type this, while we guess for most who are reading, the windows are drawn and the AC is cranked up. July has delivered its promises of high temps, and though the monsoons have finally arrived, we all agree more rain would be even better. Join us for a cool moment with this monthly cannabis news roundup that includes a recap on what happened (and didn't happen) during the emergency special legislative session, an update on enrollment and a rundown on how other states and cities are making use of tax revenue from recreational sales.
Want to receive this monthly news roundup? Sign up to get it in your mailbox.
New Mexico News
New Mexico’s legalization prospects
State lawmakers spent five days in session last month to try and plug budget holes created by the COVID-19 pandemic. No bills for recreational legalization ever made it to the table for discussion, and a big last-minute police reform agenda went nowhere fast. In addition to budget measures, and perhaps in a move toward civil liberties and accountability, however, the Legislature did pass a law requiring all law enforcement officers to wear body cameras. And what's more, the results of June's primary election might have shuffled the deck enough to diminish the power of traditionally conservative Democrats who have presented obstacles to legalization. Senate President Mary Kay Papen and Senate Finance Committee leader John Arthur Smith were defeated by progressive candidates Carrie Hamblen and Neomi Martinez-Parra, respectively. They'll be in place for the legislative session scheduled early next year.
Medical program rules face court challenge
New Mexico's newest Medical Cannabis Program rules are "arbitrary and capricious," says producer Ultra Health in its latest litigation against state officials. "Arguably a perennial thorn in the side of the department, Ultra Health and its CEO Duke Rodriguez have filed numerous legal actions against the state over issues like the legality of displaying a cannabis plant at the state fair and increasing the number of plants producers can grow," writes Andy Lyman of NM Political Report. This time Ultra Health says rules on testing plants for fungus, pesticides and heavy metals are out of line.
Medical Cannabis Program at a glance
The state's Medical Cannabis Program offices in Santa Fe remain closed to the public for walk-in services until further notice. Staff continue to work and process applications through a secure application drop-box in the lobby. The number of patients in New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program as of the end of June is 94,102, with 8,504 holding personal production licenses. In Santa Fe County alone, 10,541 people are qualified. Post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain remain the most common conditions for which patients enroll in the program. More than 300 have been qualified for treatment of opiate use disorder, added to the program last summer.
Around the Region and the Web
Putting tax money to work toward equality
In Illinois, at least one city is aiming to put the tax revenue from new recreational marijuana toward reparations for African American residents. Evanston's proposed housing assistance and economic development benefits is intended to recognize over 70% of Evanston's marijuana-related arrests were among Black people, even though they are less than 17% of the population.The disproportionality is repeated in varying degrees across the nation. In California, the number of felony marijuana arrests continued to decline last year, for example, but those arrests fell disproportionately on Hispanics and Blacks, data reported by The Baltimore Sun shows. Los Angeles is changing the way it considers applications for the "social equity" component of cannabis licensing after the initial rollout didn't have the desired effect of including communities hit hardest by the war on drugs among those who benefit from marijuana legalization.
...and toward research
Got that CBD pain rub? How about high-dose bath bombs? Is your PTSD better with pot? Colorado, California and a small handful of other states are steering funds derived from marijuana legalization toward controlled, peer-approved studies assessing the medical effectiveness of cannabis compounds to seek answers to questions that cannabis consumers have market tested for years, The Colorado Sun reports this week.