Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief: Southside Grown

Hear from local cannabis company Best Daze about its founding and expansion

Happy new year, folks! A lot has happened in the past month. The Cannabis Control Division finalized rules for rec about three weeks ago and is issuing more and more licenses.

With all of that going on and recreational sales getting closer, we decided to spend some time with a local cannabis company that stands out in Santa Fe’s scene. Father and son Len and Eli Goodman opened Best Daze on Airport Road in 2018. The elder Goodman started New MexiCann Natural Medicine—which he left following a divorce—after he became one of the first people in the state to get a license to grow cannabis for medical patients back in the day. Among his primary reasons for getting into the industry: to help low-income people access their medicine. So it made sense to be on the Southside. The company is expanding with a new shop on Mercer Street while staying true to its roots, prioritizing its workers and longtime patients.

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

The Neighborhood Dispensary

Cannabis company Best Daze stays true to its Southside roots and expands as recreational market draws near

Ready to go

The Cannabis Control Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department announced on Dec. 28 that final rules for cannabis manufacturers, retailers and couriers are now in effect (producer rules were finalized in late August). One notable retail rule: Minors aren’t allowed in dispensaries. The Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee recommended in November that children be permitted to enter retail establishments with their parents or guardians, with some committee members expressing concerns that parents might face challenges in buying cannabis if they weren’t able to bring their kids with them. But the division rejected that recommendation, instead opting to limit access to people who are 21 and over, or who are at least 18 and have a medical or primary caregiver card. “The Cannabis Control Division carefully considered all input—from stakeholders, the public, businesses and the Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee—on cannabis retail-store age guidelines,” spokeswoman Heather Brewer writes in an email to SFR. The department also launched a public portal last month to allow for searches of applications and licensees.

Patient limit

Second Judicial District Court Judge Benjamin Chavez last month dismissed a claim that medical cannabis patients should be given the same purchase limits as non-patients. The state’s medical program allows patients to buy up to 8 ounces of flower every three months. But under the Cannabis Regulation Act, which doesn’t limit the number of purchases that can be made, a person could hypothetically make five trips to a dispensary and purchase the maximum amount—2 ounces of flower—each time and have bought 2 ounces more than a patient is allowed in a 90-day period. “Petitioner has failed to establish that he, as well as qualified patients, qualified caregivers, and reciprocal patients, have a clear legal right to purchase an additional two ounces of medical cannabis, tax free, at this time, under the Cannabis Regulation Act,” Chavez wrote in his opinion. In a statement to New Mexico Political Report, Dominick Zurlo, director of the medical program, commended Chavez’s ruling. State Sen. Jacob Candelaria, an attorney who’s representing the patient who brought the claim, said they’re evaluating next steps.

Water worries

In its last episode of 2021, Growing Forward, a collaborative podcast between New Mexico Political Report and New Mexico PBS, focused on water. There’s been a lot of speculation and concern, including at the Roundhouse, about how much water the cannabis industry will use. John Romero with the State Engineer’s Water Allocation Program said the exact amount is unknown because “it’s still relatively new to us and it’s pretty new nationwide,” but that some studies have shown “it’s right around six gallons per plant, per day, for the growing season.” Securing legal access to water is a licensure requirement for cannabis businesses, which Romero and his team have to verify, adding work to an already strained department.

Cannabis and COVID-19

Certain cannabinoid acids can help fight COVID-19, researchers from Oregon State University report. In a study published last week in the Journal of Natural Products, cannabigerolic acid and cannabidiolic acid were found to be effective against several virus variants, either preventing infections or shortening them, by binding to the virus’ proteins and disrupting their ability to attach to receptors in human cells. The research team looked at non-psychoactive hemp compounds, not THC, which campus rules disallow because it’s a controlled substance. “I envision oral administration in the form of a dietary supplement like a pill or an oil or a gummy, something like that,” Dr. Richard van Breemen, first author on the study, told VICE News. “We all know that if we get exposed…we’re all worried about getting sick. That’s the time I would recommend taking a supplement that has the capability of preventing infection. But I don’t advocate these particular compounds as a treatment or cure for someone who’s hospitalized and severely ill.”

Growing, bipartisan support

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said last week that he doesn’t think people should be jailed for low-level cannabis possession—on the same day Austin officials certified a ballot initiative to enact local decriminalization. In response to questions at a campaign press event, Abbott, who’s up for re-election this year, said Texas is “making steps” to decrease cannabis penalties, but he wrongly stated that possession is a Class C misdemeanor in the state. In fact, possession of up to 2 ounces of marijuana remains a Class B misdemeanor with a penalty of up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000. Nonetheless, advocates say the Republican governor’s comments are significant. “Elected officials in Texas—both Democrats and Republicans—agree that we should no longer arrest people for small amounts of marijuana,” Heather Fazio, director of Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, told Marijuana Moment. “It’s a waste of resources, it unfairly derails lives, and it’s time for the legislature to take action so law enforcement can focus on real crime.”

Movement in DC

Congressional Democrats are preparing for sweeping cannabis reform this spring. “The growing bipartisan momentum for cannabis reform shows that Congress is primed for progress in 2022, and we are closer than ever to bringing our cannabis policies and laws in line with the American people,” Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon, and Barbara Lee, D-California, wrote in a memorandum to the Congressional Cannabis Caucus last month. The memo outlines dozens of bills, including federal de-scheduling, expungement of criminal records of thousands of people affected by prohibition and industry access to banking services like commercial loans and checking accounts.

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