Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief: The Business of Cannabis

Hear from Santa Fe cannabis dispensaries on the move to rec

Greetings from the chill of Croptober. We hear it’s been a great growing season for some of you, and we’ve got lots of news to share.

Last week, SFR talked with a few cannabis businesses about how they’re adjusting to legalization. Because the medical program and recreational cannabis are under the control of the same state agency, some industry professionals say it doesn’t make sense for them to not expand to both markets. On top of that, some dispensaries are opening new locations and planning to establish cannabis consumption areas. Looming large, though, are expected supply shortages immediately after recreational sales begin next April.

Excitingly, we can stop talking about the city dragging its feet on the zoning front. Late last month, the City Council passed a cannabis zoning ordinance for Santa Fe, making it the last of New Mexico’s five largest cities by population to establish a regulatory framework. The ordinance requires 300 feet between cannabis businesses and schools, and 400 feet from business to business. And in city officials’ attempt at equity, the ordinance allows microbusinesses in more zones than larger producers.

Scroll down for more news from around the state and nation.

Industry in Flux

Local cannabis dispensaries expand, work through challenges to adjust to new landscape


Santa Fe City Council passes cannabis zoning ordinance

Breaking ground

A federally licensed cannabis manufacturing and research facility broke ground in Grants earlier this month. The facility is reportedly worth $300 million in investments and will create 400 local construction jobs. The chairman of Bright Green Corporation told KOB it is one of three companies in the US that are “federally legal to handle Schedule 1 drugs.” In May, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced it was registering several companies to produce cannabis—which along with, for example, heroin and LSD is classified as a Schedule 1 drug—for medical and scientific purposes. Researchers in the US were previously only allowed to use cannabis from one domestic source.

Listen up

Stay tuned to Growing Forward, a podcast exploring the cannabis industry in New Mexico that’s hosted by Andy Lyman, a journalist at New Mexico Political Report, and Megan Kamerick, a correspondent at New Mexico PBS and the news director of KUNM. In the latest episode, Lyman and Kamerick visited AHL Garden Center in Albuquerque, where they learned about equipment for indoor and outdoor growing.Manager Travis Chapman talked about how much the landscape has changed in the last two decades, starting with how there used to be concerns that employeesat the center could be arrested should they be deemed accessories to illegal activity—in this case, growing cannabis. The podcast won two awards this year from the Society of Professional Journalists and New Mexico Press Women.

Court battle

The state is pushing back against a court ruling ordering an increase to medical cannabis purchase limits. In August, a state District Court judge sided with medical cannabis patient Jason Barker, whoargued that the state is effectively discriminating against patients by limiting their purchases to a smaller amount than what will be allowed when recreational sales begin. Under the current regulations, if patients want to purchase more than the currently allocated 230 “units”—a unit is defined as one gram of dried flower or 200 milligrams of extract—they’ll have to buy it as recreational cannabis, which comes with taxes. In a written answer to the ruling, the Department of Health and the Department of Regulation and Licensing “deny that the statutory and regulatory scheme unlawfully limits Petitioner’s access to medicine and/or that it unlawfully denies patients access to their rights.” Both departments are set to jointly argue the case in court next month.

On the ballot

Next month, voters across the country will vote on measures from hiking cannabis taxes to decriminalizing psychedelics. A proposal in Colorado would hike taxes on cannabis and put the revenue toward programs designed to reduce the education gap for low-income students. Denver voters will weigh in on increasing the city’s cannabis tax to fund pandemic-related research. Detroit could be the next city to decriminalize psychedelics and cannabis decriminalization is proposed in multiple Ohio municipalities. In the hopes that it could motivate state lawmakers, the Philadelphia City Council placed a referendum on the ballot urging the state to pass legalization.

Supporting industry diversity

The People’s Group launched a $50 million fund to promote social equity in the industry with a goal of helping 10 to 20 cannabis companies led by women of color. “Through this fund, our objective is to break this cycle by supplying minority-owned cannabis companies with the capital they need to bring their companies to probability and the mentorship required to contribute to a more diverse cannabis industry,” said Christine De La Rosa, an entrepreneur and founding member of The People’s Group. According to a Marijuana Business Daily report, 10% of executive positions in cannabis investment firms are held by women.

Consumer health

A new federally funded study found that states with adult-use cannabis recorded fewer cases of lung injuries during an outbreak two years ago. More specifically, states that had passed legalization had a 42% lower incidence of an illness that affected some users of cannabis concentrates and e-cigarettes. The study seemingly backs up legalization advocates’ argument that availability of regulated cannabis products protects consumer health. “I do think that labeling and information can help people know what they’re getting and then the systems that are there to enforce that the product is what it says it is can help the consumer,” a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official said in 2019.

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