Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief

Local government isn’t ready

Greetings from the hot heat of the Santa Fe summer!

The big milestone this month is that the possession and home cultivation portions of the state’s new cannabis legalization laws go into effect on June 29. That means people over 21 may carry up to 2 ounces of cannabis, 16 grams of cannabis extract and 800 milligrams of edible cannabis at one time and to grow six plants per person at home. While retail sales don’t start until next spring, decriminalization is now.

But as businesses want to emerge above the black market, local governments are dragging their feet. A letter from the state Cannabis Control Division urges them to step on it. SFR tells the story of one local couple who wants to sell their land in Santa Fe County to an emerging cannabis producer.

Scroll down for more news from around the state and nation. And thanks for reading!

By the book

The state Cannabis Control Division is collecting comment through June 29 on its draft of producer licensing requirements, the same day it plans to hold a 9 am hearing on the rules. Check the agency’s website later for information about how to participate. Topics covered in the rules include: processing, approval and denial of license applications for cannabis producers; proposed fees for corresponding license types; the plant count, canopy or square footage limit for each license type; and per-plant fees applied to licensees who are growing more than 200 cannabis plants.

Legislators could cash in on cannabis

Some of New Mexico’s unpaid “citizen legislators” now stand to benefit from new and existing business ventures under cannabis legalization rules that are beginning to take effect. While several attorneys in the Roundhouse already had public connections to the industry, the revelation that Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, would open a cannabis-services law firm made waves. After efforts by others in the regular lawmaking session to push the legalization bill over the finish line didn’t succeed, Duhigg became a prominent advocate in the Senate during the special session. “People are rightly asking, ‘Why wasn’t this disclosed?’ " Duhigg told the Santa Fe New Mexican . “Had this been something I was planning on doing, I should have and would have made that disclosure, but it didn’t exist then and, honestly, it didn’t even occur to me.”

Other states

Connecticut is the latest state to legalize recreational use of cannabis, with a fast-acting law that was signed last week and goes into effect on July 1. Unlike New Mexico, the state will allow counties and cities to prohibit sales within their boundaries, and the state plans to hold a lottery to determine which businesses get in on the first round of permission to grow and sell.

The California Legislature is doling out $100 million to bolster marijuana businesses, which continue to struggle to compete with the large black market nearly five years after legalization.

The newest episode of the Politico podcast Dispatch traces the unlikely story of “how the Mormon Church learned to stop worrying and love medical marijuana,” in a state where 60% of residents are active church members, along with 90% of state lawmakers. Utah’s medical cannabis program was adopted via a voter initiative in 2018 and first began to serve patients in March 2020.

Stab and smoke

New Mexico’s high-stakes lottery incentivizing COVID-19 vaccines is among many others nationwide, but Washington state might be alone in a cannabis-specific bonus program. The “Joints for Jabs” incentive has been effective and will continue through the middle of next month. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board allows state-licensed cannabis retailers to give one free pre-rolled joint to customers who are 21 or older when they receive their first or second dose at an active, on-site vaccination clinic.

War on the War on Drugs

US Sens. Cori Bush, D-Missouri, and Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-New Jersey, want to push the envelope of federal incarceration with the Drug Policy Reform Act, which would decriminalize drugs up and down the feds’ schedule and calls for the United States to “refocus its strategies” for addressing substance use by using an approach that is “health-focused, evidence-based, and respectful of self-determination.” It would move drug enforcement from the US Attorney General to the Department of Health and Human Services and require broad expungement of criminal records for those charged under the Drug War’s draconian sentencing scheme.

Amazon stops most drug testing

Amazon CEO Dave Clark announced this month that the company will no longer test its prospective or current employees for marijuana. “In the past, like many employers, we’ve disqualified people from working at Amazon if they tested positive for marijuana use. However, given where state laws are moving across the U.S., we’ve changed course,” reads Clark’s June 1 post. Amazon says it still conduct tests as required for jobs regulated by the Department of Transportation, but in all other ways will treat the substance the same as alcohol use. “We will continue to do impairment checks on the job and will test for all drugs and alcohol after any incident,” Clark wrote.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at]sfreporter.com. Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.