Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief

Hanging of the Greens

If you’re reading this and haven’t finished your Christmas shopping, you’ve still got a solid four days to snag some last minute presents. Or, you’ve only got four days left, depending on how you see it.

Before I get into the latest cannabis news, a little housekeeping is in order. As you may have already noticed, I’m referring to myself in the first person. I figure there’s no need to pretend there’s some “we” or “us” writing this thing. Hell, my name is probably still in your field of vision. Now that that’s settled: Onward.

To Be Fair

Those who closely tracked the Cannabis Regulation Act, which legalized recreational use, probably remember how much time was spent discussing industry equity. What ever happened with that? Well, the short answer is: Regulators are working on it. The term “industry equity” likely makes Reagan-ites wince, but the cannabis game is unique in that many experts have a criminal record thanks to well…Reagan (and to be fair, other politicians on both sides of the aisle as well). But equity, in this case, also goes beyond righting wrongs in the form of expungements or allowing those with records to own a weed company. How to best use cannabis tax revenue is also important. I’d be shocked if there’s no mention of cannabis during the 60-day legislative session that starts next month. Besides figuring out where that extra revenue goes, lawmakers will probably have a go at making things fair for smaller companies that are limited by statute to 200 plants and cannot buy wholesale from other companies. I’ll have more on equity in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out.

Bank on bills

Some readers may have noticed one or two dispensaries going back to cash-only. Prior to adult-use sales, it was pretty common to be limited to greenbacks at dispensaries. Some shops have branched out to accepting debit cards in recent years, but earlier this month there was a widespread outage of what the industry calls “cashless ATMs” and at least two New Mexico shops were affected. The big issue, of course, is that many banks and credit card companies are more than uneasy about dealing with businesses that sell a product that remains federally illegal. The reasons, as far as I can tell, get murky. I’ve done not one, but two podcast episodes about cannabis banking in case you want to go down that rabbit hole. I remember several years ago, when I first started reporting on cannabis in New Mexico, there was chatter that some companies set up a separate company with the sole purpose of processing payments. I assume the money would then be transferred to the cannabis business. I also assume this fits into the IRS definition of fraud. From what I can tell now, there are a lot of banks that don’t have a problem with the old fashioned debit and PIN transaction. Of course there’s always blockchain technology as an option, which makes me feel like a Caveman Journalist, but my question is what ever happened to writing checks?

Anxiety becomes qualifying condition

This time of year surely creates a lot of stress and anxiety, but a full-fledged and often debilitating anxiety disorder is no joke. So it probably comes as great news to many that the New Mexico Department of Health approved anxiety disorder as a medical cannabis qualifying condition. Post traumatic stress disorder was the closest condition for many, which is probably at least one reason why it’s the condition most cited when getting a medical card. Just as a reminder, getting a card allows patients to not only buy more potent products, but also comes with the benefit of not paying gross receipts or cannabis excise taxes—which comes out to about 20% these days and will increase in the coming years.

Cann-vent calendars

A quick warning to all you pious potheads: Things might get borderline sacrilegious here.

My wife is the master of finding the perfect Advent calendars for friends and family. She managed to find a Dungeons and Dragons version for our oldest son, a Lindt Advent Calendar for our youngest and a box of 12 different coffees for me. We were recently talking about all the possibilities these days when our youngest suggested the idea of a “weed Advent calendar.” We nervously laughed as the realization that this kid might say stuff like this to his teacher surely danced in both our heads in place of sugar-plums. But it got me thinking, why aren’t there weed Advent calendars? It turns out there are—sort of. Given the patchwork legality of cannabis, it’s still illegal to mail or cross state lines with it. In the US you can buy this “fillable” cannabis Advent calendar, which seems slightly less fun. Farmer Jane Cannabis Co. offers a pre-packed calendar, but they only ship in Canada. (Cue sad trombone). You could always go with some of these calendars and gift boxes on Etsy that offer all the accessories your favorite stoner might want. But let’s face it, it’s pretty late in the month to start shopping for an Advent calendar, but if you’re still looking for cannabis related gifts, Thrillist has a decent list of ideas. If you’re curious about the history of Advent calendars, NPR has you covered with this quick explainer.

And since Hanukkah started last night, the folks at Hey Alma have a bunch of cool weed-inspired ideas for gifts. Again, it’s probably a little too late for some of these, but I’m sure there are at least a few industrious readers who can figure out how to make a Menorah joint or weed gelt.

Google it

This from our sister newsletter Morning Word: According to Google’s “Local Year in Search” (in which Santa Fe is considered part of Albuquerque and the surrounding area), people living here searched for “dispensary open near me” more than anywhere else in the US. Another top trending search here was “fingerprinting near me.” (Find details on Santa Fe area dispensaries right here.)

Word on the street

I usually reserve this section to share cool products or services I’ve heard about, but this month I wanted to remind everyone that SFR will launch the Leaf Brief Podcast in January with yours truly as the host. Some readers might remember Growing Forward, the podcast I co-hosted. The Leaf Brief Podcast will be a little different, but it also won’t be a rehash of the newsletter in audio form. I was out last week getting some audio for the first episode and I think it’s going to sound amazing. Don’t forget to subscribe wherever you normally consume podcasts so you can catch Episode 1 when it drops next month.

I hope everyone has an enjoyable holiday and hopefully a few days off.

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