Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief

Enforcement updates, Jim Belushi’s brand hits NM and SF County grapples with grow

You know how people sometimes say, “If you know, you know”?

Well, if you know who the Method Man is, you’ve been in this world for quite some time now. And you’ve most likely binged out on rap or the canna flower for many moons, as they say. So you’ll be pleased to know Mr. Man (I’ve never met him so feel the need to be more formal) and his partner in rhyme, Redman, will be appearing Dec. 9 at the Rio Rancho Convention Center to celebrate the 2023 Cannabis Cup Award Show put on by High Times (yes, they’re still around too).Meanwhile, Santa Fe County is grappling with a fight because some residents of the San Marcos area say they didn’t have a chance to create local rules about commercial cannabis farms. After New Mexico legalized broad cannabis cultivation in 2021, the county adopted zoning rules to regulate where producers could set up operations countywide. While the county stipulated that its 14 existing community planning districts could ask for stricter rules later, it has been slow to roll out a process for doing so. LRA Growers received permission to begin cultivation in April, but the county now plans a second hearing on the neighbors’ appeal of the LRA permit at the end of the month.

A Budding Dispute: Residents claim county rushed to approve cannabis grow before a community plan could prohibit it

Enforcement update

As Andy Lyman wrote last month, the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department revoked the license of Paradise Exotics Distro in Albuquerque. It was “the first time that regulators in New Mexico have revoked a cannabis business license since the start of legal recreational marijuana sales on April 1, 2022.” And boy, did that story have legs: A simple web search turned up more than 40 outlets rerunning the news, all the way from California (of course) to AOL UK and back to Oklahoma and Texas. (And for those keeping score, Lyman soon takes the reins as editor of The Paper., an alt-weekly in the Duke City, which, like SFR, is a member of the Association of Alt Newmedia.)

The state’s Cannabis Control Division has been busy; regulators also turned their attention to Sawmill Sweet Leaf in Albuquerque. According to a release from RLD, Judge Elaine P. Lujan of the Second Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County granted a preliminary injunction after hearing testimony from division counsel Robert Sachs. Following an investigation by CCD compliance officers, Sawmill was found to be manufacturing cannabis extracts without a license and selling cannabis products from out of state. (Is it me, or doesn’t it seem foolish to bring that stuff in from outside when there’s so much green goodness right here? I’m no criminal mastermind, but covering up “Made in Cali” with a Zia sticker doesn’t sound like much of a business plan.)

CCD officers alleged Sawmill was using, without a license, “a closed-loop extraction system [that] poses a risk of fire and/or explosion that may result in severe bodily harm or death.” Santa Feans know how deadly this process can be: Now-defunct New MexiCann experienced a 2015 accident and another explosion in 2021.

Cannabis extractions are simple but potentially dangerous operations. TS Last, writing in The Paper. on Aug. 16, reported on a fire at a Minerva Canna manufacturing facility near Bernalillo. A 23-year-old worker was transported by ambulance after suffering a “moderate” chemical burn. A report filed by Sandoval County Fire and Rescue characterized the cause as an explosion, but Minerva owner Erik Brion disputed this; Last quoted Briones as saying, “There was no explosion, there was no fire, it was just an accident.” The owner also claimed the injured worker was better and “eager to get back to work.”

According to Last, Fire and Rescue arrived on the scene and found smoke coming from a small processing structure. “Firefighters found a 6-pound bag of cannabis aflame next to the area where a chemical was spilled. The fire was put out and the area was ventilated.” The New Mexico State Fire Marshal’s Office is investigating.

You want to dance or what?

Actor, singer and cannabis advocate Jim Belushi was in New Mexico last week to promote the expansion of his Canna Empire. His Growing Belushi brand is now being sold at Seven Clover’s four stores in the state.

The sitcom and movie star turned to growing cannabis on 90+ acres in Oregon as a way to heal the pain of his past and advocate the herb’s medicinal and spiritual benefits. A docuseries on the Discovery Channel takes viewers along as Jim shares his agricultural passion.

Belushi told KOB-4′s Danielle Todesco, “I visited dispensaries and I talked to people in dispensaries and everybody I talked to from the budtenders to the customers, there’s always a story. And every story is about the medical benefits that I hear.”

The Leaf contacted Belushi via social media (mainly to make sure he got some roasted Hatch before winging back to the coast), and he responded, “Every time I cultivate the land, I get pulled more and more into the medicine and the joy of this work.”

In addition to sharing the benefits of cannabis, Belushi is also publicizing the efforts of Last Prisoner Project, an organization that fights to free people incarcerated due to cannabis laws and for a reimagined drug policy.

Speaking to Herb.co about people jailed for cannabis offenses, Belushi said, “They were the pioneers for the cannabis industry,” meaning they’re the ones who “took the arrows” and were sentenced to jail in support of the blossoming industry.”

Still no word back from Belushi as to whether anyone hooked him up with the Hatch.

Best buds

In a burst of shameless self-promotion (no press is bad right, right?), SFR hosted our Best of Santa Fe party the last week of July. All the winners were, like, “Yeah, we won again, so what? I mean, aren’t we great?” And the second- and third-placers were like, “Yeah, we’re coming to get you next year, so watch it, bud.”

And speaking of bud, the good folks at High Desert Relief had this to say about Marcos Barela, one of SF’s award-winning budtenders: “Marc is very knowledgeable in all areas ranging from flower to edibles to concentrates. He is always willing to help a customer in need, especially if they’re feeling lost about what to purchase.” High Desert gave away a ton of lighters and papers at our Railyard fiesta, so yeah, they know how to party.

Best of Santa Fe Cannabis Winners: Voters in our annual online poll selected their favorite budtenders, dispensaries and products

Shake: Odds and ends from New Mexico and beyond

  • SFR has covered the City of Santa Fe’s refusal to allow consumption lounges, and Robert Nott followed with a story in The Santa Fe New Mexican July 29 that the state “has approved nearly 20 consumption lounges …, though not all of them have opened.” Nott, who found one lounge open in White Rock, reports ten states have approved consumption cafes, including Nevada, which has seen delays in efforts to open lounges in Las Vegas due to “changing regulations, funding issues and administrative” problems. Despite those issues, on July 22, the Paiute Tribe held an opening ceremony atop the aptly named Sky High Lounge. It’s Sin City’s first and only consumption lounge. Perhaps New Mexico’s Las Vegas can follow suit; it’s got a handful dispensaries and a boatload of college kids; you do the math.
  • The National Transportation Safety Board released a report following last year’s fatal Balloon Fiesta crash in ABQ. In an Aug. 19 report, the AP said, “The National Transportation Safety Board said in its final report released this week that pilot Nicholas Meleski did not maintain enough clearance from power lines while trying to land. He hit the power lines and crashed into a busy intersection.” The report claimed there were no mechanical problems with the balloon and also stated Meleski had cocaine and marijuana in his system that would have likely had “impairing effects” that contributed to the crash on June 26, 2021.
  • The LuckyLeaf Expo returns to Albuquerque next month. Its website says you can “explore more than 100 exhibitors, hear from a variety of speakers and more” (put me down for some of that “and more,” okay?). Organizers also suggest you tell “the rest of your “buds” about the best cannabis business event in New Mexico,” which makes me want to never use scare quotes around ever again.
  • The Cannabis Control Division will hold a hearing on proposals for amendments to rules related to licensing requirements and complaint procedures at 9 am, Aug. 31 in the Toney Anaya State Office Building” located at 2550 Cerrillos Road. It’s also available for livestreaming. Leaf Brief will share the 420 411 about that in our next report.

The new guy

Joseph Fatton is a writer, editor and animal advocate; he and his wife, Dr. Rose Antonelli-Fatton, run Blue Rose of Hope Animal Sanctuary in Springer. He’s a former SFR copy editor who is trying his hand at Leaf Brief. Like what you read? Send him a note or an idea by hitting reply.

Editor’s note: Just after publication, the organizers of the High Times event changed its date from September to December. This story has been updated with the correct date.

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