Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief: Evolving Environment

Santa Fe gets delivery service; lawmakers pushing for fewer cannabis regulations

The cannabis industry’s outlook continues to take shape as lawmakers look to roll back regulations and offer banking businesses more opportunities to serve marijuana companies. Meanwhile, the state has seen slight decreases in monthly sales since adult-use recreational sales began earlier this year, officials have pushed back testing requirements and the city of Santa Fe has a new service for users. On the federal front, President Joe Biden said during a Sunday press briefing on the White House lawn that his administration is working on a crime bill to free people incarcerated for marijuana charges. The update comes after a group of US senators called on the president to make good on his campaign pledge, writing a letter to Biden asking that he use constitutional authority to pardon individuals convicted of non-violent, cannabis-related offenses. It’s estimated that more than 40,000 people are in custody on such charges.

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

State Sales

Month over month cannabis sales in New Mexico have been on a slight decline since adult-use sales began in April, when the state saw nearly $39.4 million in total revenue. Santa Fe brought in the third-most cannabis dollars that month with $3.4 million. In May, the state’s transactions dropped to $38.5 million, while Santa Fe’s came in at $3.3 million. The state’s total sales dropped again in June, to $37.7 million, while local sales hovered just under $3.3 million. Tax revenue, meanwhile, is up. The state Taxation and Revenue Department received 124 cannabis excise tax returns for the June filling period, which reflects sales activity in May. The returns totaled $2,518,607, compared to the first month’s sales, which generated $2,422,678 in tax dollars.

Federal Movement

Congress continues to look at legislation that would protect banks and credit unions that serve cannabis companies in states where it’s legal. The SAFE Banking Act aims to provide security for institutions by shielding them from federal regulators. (Remember, cannabis remains illegal at the federal level.) An amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to include language from the bill, which has passed the US House of Representatives seven times, was approved on Thursday. House lawmakers adopted the amendment as part of the defense-spending package last year, but it was cut from the final legislation. Mark Sadowski, New Mexico Financial Institutions Division director, told SFR last month that most financial organizations will likely hold off on serving cannabis companies until they get more assurance from the federal government that they won’t be punished. Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are expected to introduce legislation in the coming weeks that would take cannabis off the federal controlled substances list, but the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act will likely face opposition from Republicans.

Weed on Wheels

Cannabis users in Santa Fe don’t have to leave their home anymore to shop. Benjamin Harper recently opened up Deep Sky Cannabis, offering delivery throughout the city. The business, located at 1320 Luana St., is open for curbside pickup, too. Harper says he expects to have the storefront open by this weekend. Customers can order delivery online by visiting deepskycannabis.com, weedmaps.com or leafly.com. Users can also call (505) 216-6513 to place an order for delivery. Couriers will ask for ID and a signature when dropping off products. Right now, Deep Sky is the only dispensary in town to offer the service. It’s open seven days a week, from 9 am to 8 pm.

Testing Delayed, Again

The New Mexico Cannabis Control Division (CCD) recently sent a notice to producers, informing them the pesticide testing requirements for cannabis have been pushed back for the second time. The division’s requirements to uncover pesticides were originally set to become effective March 1—a month before adult-use sales began. Citing a large burden that would be placed on the state’s two labs capable of testing for pesticides, the CCD pushed the effective date until July 1. Through a spot check SFR conducted in May, several samples collected from area dispensaries were found to have pesticide residues above the division’s threshold for inhalable substances. Then, on June 30, the CCD told cannabis companies it had decided to delay rolling out the requirements based on “substantive capacity limitations” for testing. The rules now won’t go into effect until Jan. 1, 2023. Carolina Barrera, acting director at CCD, wrote in the letter, though, that the division encourages licensees to conduct additional testing to increase consumer confidence in the safety of cannabis products.

Star’s Sticky Situation

WNBA star Brittney Griner remains behind Russian bars after she was arrested at a Moscow airport about five months ago for having vape cartridges containing cannabis-derived oil. Currently on trial, Griner entered a guilty plea and is facing up to 10 years in prison for drug possession and smuggling. Lawyers for the star athlete have since presented evidence that she had a prescription for the cannabis products, while she also has told the court she mistakenly packed the cartridges. A standout at Baylor University, where she won an NCAA championship, Griner now plays for the Phoenix Mercury. She won an WNBA ring in 2014 and has garnered eight All-Star nods. Arguably one of the greatest female basketball players of all time, her lengthy detention has led to criticism that President Biden and the US aren’t doing enough to bring her home. While the Biden administration says Griner is being wrongfully held, her coach, Vanessa Nygaard, NBA players and others have argued that a star from a male sports league would have been released by now. It was reported last week that former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson has plans to travel to Russia in an effort to free both her and former Marine Paul Whelan. Also a former US energy secretary and UN ambassador, this isn’t Richardson’s first time assisting US citizens detained abroad.


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