Greetings, friends. Our reporting this month is all about the state’s development of rules that’ll govern the new cannabis industry, with a focus on age restrictions for who can enter dispensaries, equity and labor.
At a special meeting earlier this month, the Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee recommended that children be allowed in dispensaries with their parents or guardians. Draft rules issued by the Cannabis Control Division—which the committee advises—would prohibit anyone under 21, or under 18 without a medical or primary caregiver card, from entering a dispensary. One committee member expressed concern for “people who cannot afford to have child care in order to buy legal cannabis and the medical patients who are currently accessing their medicine while bringing their children.” The committee recommended unanimously that the division review and consider incorporation of a rule mirroring the Liquor Control Act, which permits children with their parents in liquor stores.
The committee is also seeking public input on social and economic equity via an online survey. The survey features questions about barriers to entry for business owners and workers and what strategies the state should use. Committee members at the special meeting voted to recommend pushing back CCD’s deadline to create an equity plan to Jan. 1, 2022. Meanwhile, workers’ rights advocates say while there’s been a worthwhile focus on business ownership in discussions of equity, workers can’t be overlooked. CCD is set to hold a public hearing on Dec. 1 on new draft rules, including a provision that would require all cannabis businesses, with the exception of microbusinesses, to enter into labor peace agreements as a licensure condition. Those agreements establish that businesses won’t work against their employees unionizing if the union agrees not to strike.
Lastly: If you like our cannabis coverage and want to support free, local, independent journalism, please consider a donation in our annual Friends of the Reporter campaign.
Scroll down for more news from around the state and nation.
Cannabis advisory committee recommends parents and guardians be allowed to bring children into dispensaries
Cannabis advisory committee seeking input on equity in the industry; public hearing on provision protecting unionization set for next month
Last month, business owners and managers talked with SFR about how they’re adjusting to legalization, and we have more news on that front. Fruit of the Earth Organics on Early Street is planning to have two separate storefronts for medical and recreational sales, according to Administrative Manager Micah Helman. The medical operation will move into the CBD shop next door and the retail operation will move into where medical is now. And as we previously reported, the company also plans to open a cannabis consumption area in the nearby Paradiso venue. Sacred Garden announced earlier this month that it’s discontinuing a range of in-house products, including its lollypops and chocolate coins, through early 2022 to focus on increasing flower production, which accounts for 70% of the company’s annual revenue. The move will ensure Sacred Garden’s “long-term viability in the marketplace,” said Zeke Shortes, founder and president.
Mother’s Meds, a New-Mexico based company doing business as Lava Leaf Organics, announced last week that it received the first cannabis cultivation license from the state Regulation and Licensing Department on Nov. 1. President and CEO Tony Martinez, along with his brother and father, unsuccessfully applied for a production license through the medical program in 2015. After the Department of Health denied them a license, they entered a cultivation contract with medical cannabis producer Urban Wellness. In a statement, Martinez attributed the company getting the license to “hard work, due diligence and adaptability” and the “business friendly attitude” of San Juan County. A spokeswoman for RLD confirmed to New Mexico Political Report that Mother’s Meds received a license, but added that there’s still a pending background check. Martinez said he’ll comply with all state rules and regulations.
Joining a growing list of cities and towns throughout the state that have set up their own regulatory frameworks for the industry, the Village of Ruidoso Council approved a cannabis zoning and regulation ordinance Nov. 9. The ordinance essentially updates the existing village codes to establish where retail, manufacturing and consumption can happen. “Where retail was allowed we plugged in the retail sale of cannabis and so forth; and so we went throughout the code and where that use was already existing we plugged in this product to be manufactured or produced, tested,” Samantha Mendez, community development director, told the council. The ordinance doesn’t address density, which has been a controversial issue in some cities, including Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Also on Nov. 9, the Alamogordo City Commission voted to add a $500 fee for manufacturer licenses to its cannabis ordinance. The Carlsbad City Council passed an ordinance on Oct. 26 that limits cannabis sales to four zones and requires a 300-foot boundary between businesses and places of worship and public parks. Santa Fe City Council approved a zoning ordinance on Sept. 29, following the County Commission on July 30.
More than 70% of voters in Philadelphia earlier this month approved a referendum calling on state lawmakers to legalize cannabis. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf supports the legalization of adult-use cannabis, having stated that it could lead to both economic gains, particularly as the state recovers from the pandemic, and restorative justice for communities that have disproportionately been harmed by prohibition. But legalization proposals have failed to move forward in the Republican-led Legislature. Also this election cycle, Detroit voters decriminalized entheogenic plants, which include psychedelic mushrooms and peyote, meaning the city’s police will no longer prioritize arrests for the use and possession of such drugs.
A new Gallup poll shows that 68% of Americans support legalizing cannabis, maintaining a historic high reached last year. Over more than five decades, Gallup has recorded increasing support for legalization. The first poll on the issue was conducted in 1969, when a meager 12% of Americans indicated support. A majority of Americans supported legalization for the first time in 2013. The issue is, however, divided by political parties. While 83% of Democrats and 71% of independents support legalization, Republicans are almost evenly split, with 50% in favor and 49% opposed.
Republican-led federal effort
Republicans in Congress introduced a bill last week to federally legalize and tax cannabis, representing an attempt to find middle ground between far-reaching proposals from Democrats and more moderate measures from the other side of the aisle. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Nancy Mace, R-South Carolina, includes some equity provisions like expungement of non-violent cannabis convictions and an excise tax that would support community reinvestment. “Washington needs to provide a framework which allows states to make their own decisions on cannabis moving forward,” Mace said in a statement. “This bill does that.” Industry stakeholders say it’s an important step forward, because there’s doubt that Democratic-led legalization will be able to pass without GOP support.
‘Tis the season
If you’re struggling to find gifts or stocking stuffers, we’ve got a few ideas for the weed lover(s) in your life, from the low to the high end. First up: $8 rolling papers from Growf, a small, Black-owned business. The company offers papers made with flower and either pineapple, orange, strawberry or mixed berries for, it claims, a longer burn time and more pleasant flavor. A pre-roll collection from Her Highness NYC and the Last Prisoner Project—which, for $15, includes a roll and a lighter—is aiming to raise awareness of women with non-violent cannabis convictions. With each roll featuring a half-gram of CBD, the company notes it won’t get you high but you might feel a body buzz. Designed to be durable, the Eyce spoon pipe is made out of borosilicate glass and priced at $19.99. Nine-ounce Stash Air storage jars come in a range of colors and go for $27.99. For a one-time payment of $36.99, Cannabox, a monthly subscription service, will send you a mystery box with gear-like grinders and dab rigs. A $60 rolling tray from High Standard is designed with iconic Keith Haring artwork. (BTW his art is part of a new fitness court at SWAN Park.) For the glass enthusiast, a bubbler from GRAV, priced at $109.99, has a unique design and an exclusive amber color.