Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief

Now that rec use is legal here in New Mexico, medical patients are finding a change in the state’s program. Personally, the Leaf’s medical card was great for the tax break on my purchases, but it expired last month, and our health care provider prefers not to process such paperwork (another topic for another day, but wtf, Doc?), but even if they did, renewals are only available through the state’s website. It’s all online (unless you want to print out the form and, shudder, mail it in via USPS like a caveman).

If you have a medical card, do what I did and put the expiration date in your Google calendar (or whatever platform suits you), but unlike me, don’t ignore it til it’s time; in fact, those in the know add a calendar event a month ahead of time to let the wheels of processing turn. Before my Expiry Date (sad day that it was), I made a heftier-than-usual purchase at Colfax Cannabis in Raton, my local shop.

Toni at Colfax hooked me up with a bodacious half-ounce of buddilicious Lemonhead Delight (crushing it at a righteous 24.5% THC, and yes, I know terpenes are a better benchmark, but let me get to the point). Surprise, surprise, that half has been fast dwindling down to shake and budlets. The best laid plans, and all that (shoulda gone with the ounce, but like I told Toni, I haven’t bought that much weed since college), so I bit the bullet and paid the tax and got a few more grams this week.

That should be good til the renewal comes through (and good thing, as this column would not be the same without the right, um, ambiance).

But enough about me, how’s it going at your local dispensary? Drop the Leaf a line and let us know who’s top shelf, who’s not quite customer-friendly, and who’s got your favorite deal; if enough readers respond, we might get the boss to pony up an SFR T-shirt or something for the best review.

And read on for more cannabis news...

Priscotty Cuts to the Choice

A delivery service operating in Albuquerque has branched out to offer dispensary-to-door delivery from several Santa Fe dispensaries. Priscotty currently runs home delivery for 30+ retailers in the Duke City and has begun deliveries in the City Different. Whether you’re an impulse buyer who doesn’t want the hassle of driving, driving, driving and then parking and walking into the shop, or a medical patient with mobility issues or you just can’t get out, Priscotty offers a solution for bringing the goods right to you.

Scott Prisco, the cannabis delivery company’s CEO, told the Leaf his delivery service “is a great application for people who are homebound and need their medicine. It also is great way to stop people from consuming cannabis and driving.”

Prisco added that Santa Fe’s mix of older residents and tourists makes the city ideal for deliveries; his company uses unmarked vehicles for privacy. At present, he’s entered into partnerships with Sacred Gardens, Dreamz and PurLife. Representatives from Elements and the Bad Co., two Priscotty customers in Albuquerque (the service makes between 40 and 50 deliveries a day down there), spoke to the Leaf about the service.

Dan Novak, COO and budtender at The Bad Co., said, “It’s really a game changer for us as a smaller retailer. I just [can’t]…have my own delivery service, as the costs would far outweigh the benefit…We opened our doors the first day of rec, and I had been watching and hoping that someone would take up the opportunity. Scott…is very customer focused, which lets me trust him to handle those customer interactions outside of our store.”

Elements Dispensary’s co-owner Clarence Singleton said, “Our customers love the delivery service. It’s an awesome and convenient way to provide a way for patients/customers to receive their medicine when they are not able to come in the store.”

So next time you’re on the web and spot a shop with Priscotty’s logo, ask about delivery. Delivery pre-Priscotty used to be available for a pretty penny and on a delayed schedule, but now, it’s free and same day service, often within the hour of placing your order. Stay home and stay cool.

NM’s Heinrich Questions HHS Chief re: Rescheduling

At a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting last week, US Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-NM, discussed the DEA’s consideration to reschedule cannabis on the federal level with Xavier Becerra, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.

Heinrich asked about HHS’s recent 11-month review of scientific evidence that culminated in the agency supporting cannabis’s reclassification from Schedule I (restricted to drugs with no medicinal purpose and vulnerable to addiction), writes Kyle Jaeger in Marijuana Moment.

“It is our responsibility to try to give the science on substances so that, therefore, DEA can then decide where to classify that substance when it comes to being a narcotic or a substance that could have an impact on society,” Becerra said.

Nationwide Support Growing for Legalization

Back in 1969, Gallup took one of the first polls to assess the public’s support for marijuana legalization. All those in favor: 12% (they didn’t ask any of my friends, we were like 10, but my older brother and his friends would have skewed those results to the 99% level. I digress…).

What a difference a day makes (try 53 years, but that can’t be right; if it is, somebody around here is old, and my brother must be in his 70s by now, yikes, Pat!). The most recent Gallup survey, cited by MJBizDaily on Nov. 8, found 7 out of 10 (that’s 70% for the math-challenged) Americans support legalization.

Support for legalization broke through the 50% level back in 2013, and the past three years saw a leveling off at 68% before the latest rise. “The steady increase in support for cannabis reform aligns with the growth in self-reported use of marijuana,” MJBizDaily wrote.

Gallup’s annual Consumption Habits survey in July showed that 17% of respondents smoke marijuana—an increase of 10 percentage points since 2013.

More on Golden Roots Revocation

Speaking of our great state’s pot program, the state Cannabis Control Division’s compliance officers have been busy lately, and they are at it again. As SFR’s Julia Goldberg reported last week, Golden Roots has had its license revoked and was fined almost $300K (with proceeds to be deposited in the Current School Fund, so stay in class, kids, or something).

Now, based on the court finding of fact (which is more than a dozen pages but the Leaf plowed through them so you don’t have to), Golden Roots applied for a license and was granted one, fine and dandy, then they started their little grow op, but for some reason, after just one month, according to the findings, the company “asked to add fully mature flower plants into the state’s inventory tracking system.”

Those of us enjoying the fruits of this summer’s harvest know cannabis plants take several months to grow, mature, flower (yay!) and process after harvest. Something was fishy.

When officials shared their concerns with Golden Roots, the company changed its request and asked for seedlings to be entered into the system instead. At this point, in January 2023, the division sent a Notice of Contemplative Action (NCA), or rather tried to, as the certified mail to company representative Abbas Alshimery was undelivered.

The NCA warned Alshimery the division had enough evidence “which, if not rebutted or satisfactorily explained at a formal hearing, will justify the suspension or revocation of Respondent’s license.”

No hearing was requested, and “on April 28, 2023, the Division issued a final Decision and Order revoking Respondent’s license and imposing a fee of $10,000 for violations.”

Now it gets murky; according to the finding, “on May 22, 2023, a representative for Respondent’s counsel requested that the case be reopened on the basis that Respondent’s owner was out of the country seeking medical care for a ‘life and death’ issue.” This kept Alshimery from requesting a hearing, which led to his license being revoked.

Alshimery was given an opportunity to request another hearing. On July 17, he did just that; a hearing was scheduled for Aug. 21. But on Aug.9, Alshimery’s counsel requested a continuance so the defendant could engage a new lawyer.

That request was granted, but when division compliance officers conducted a routine inspection of Golden Roots’ retail location, Alshimery refused to grant them access. Officers returned with a subpoena requesting sales data and access to the facility; they were denied access a second time.

On Sept. 1, CCD held a hearing without the presence of Alshimery. CCD compliance officer Charles Nuanes testified he inspected the defendant’s location on May 20 and “the facility appeared to be in a construction phase and was not in a state that would have been able to produce cannabis plants.”

Nuanes said “there was no evidence of cannabis plants growing onsite despite BioTrack reports reflecting that cannabis plants had been growing at the facility.” There were also “inaccurate entries of water loss” and “large adjustments to their inventory sometimes totaling 24 pounds worth of adjustments at a time with vague justification for those adjustments.” Such activities, according to the findings, could allow “cannabis product to leave the traceability system and be sent to unlicensed or illegal persons or locations.”

Alshimery was stripped of his license and fined $298,972.

Mountaintop Extracts Packaging Lands Headline

If you’re like the Leaf, the last thing on your mind in the dispensary is how your favorite gummy, vape cartridge or infused bevvy is packaged. Well, the writers of Packaging Digest have a keener interest than us, and they took a look at the designs and packaging put out by Albuquerque-based Mountaintop Extracts.

PD’s Kate Bertrand Connolly wrote, “The natural beauty of New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, is on display in the brand’s new package graphics. Colors and imagery, including a mountain goat in the new logo, were inspired by the state’s deserts, mountains, and skies.”

Connolly spoke with Mountaintop’s CEO, Eric Merryman, and Jen Merryman, the company’s president, about their new designs.

Eric Merryman told Connolly, “Our goal is to delight consumers with the sensory parallels between the colors, scents, and sounds of our home with those of top-quality cannabis [and] to celebrate the flavors and effects of vivid, natural cannabis terpene spectrums. We also strive to be the New Mexico cannabis brand that brings the Land of Enchantment nationwide.”

It’s not every day the Leaf peruses a packaging publication (he used to work for a monthly covering the bar-code industry, and that was as exciting as it sounds), but after reading about gummy packaging and cartridge design, can we have a talk about the often-indestructible ziplock sealer most dispensaries use? Instead of the flip-top film canister of yesteryear (okay, decades ago), these zippers are keeping us from our leaf purchase til we get home and fire up our blowtorch; maybe that’s the idea.

More from SFR - CEO wants protection for patients: Enrollment in medical cannabis program last month hit its lowest figure since March 2020

Shake: Odds and ends from New Mexico and beyond

  • Ohio became State #24 to legalize recreational weed earlier this month. On Nov. 7, AP’s Julie Carr Smyth published an interview with Tom Haren, spokesman for the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, who said, “Marijuana is no longer a controversial issue. Ohioans demonstrated this by passing State Issue 2 in a landslide.” Throwing a slightly wet blanket on the fire, Carr Smyth added, “But as a citizen-initiated statute, the law is subject to change. Republicans who remain opposed to it in the Legislature are free to make tweaks to the law—or even repeal it, though the political stakes are higher now that the voters have approved it.”
  • An Albuquerque dispensary is offering to help US veterans qualify for their medical cards. Enchanted Botanicals sends veterans with valid ID to ABQ Integrative Medicine, which usually charges patients between $65 to $120 for a med card, and $15 for renewals. Enchanted’s month-long program to celebrate Veterans Day pays the bill in order to get more vets signed up.
  • A study from the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction surveyed adults who reported nonmedical prescription opioid use. Researchers found “when states implement medical cannabis laws, there is a 0.5 to 1.5 percentage point decrease in regular to frequent (up to or greater than once per week on average) nonmedical prescription opioid use among people who reported using opioids in the previous year.”
  • Australia’s medical establishment just came out against the country’s push to legalize recreational cannabis. On Nov. 9, Charmaine Manuel reported in the Border Mail that the head of the Down Under version of the AMA claimed that legalizing “cannabis for recreational purposes sends the wrong signal to the public and especially to young Australians, that cannabis use is not harmful,” in a statement sounding vaguely like a Nancy Reagan “Just Say No” PSA. They did agree that cannabis use should be a medical, not a criminal, issue, so they are not totally behind the times (Did you know that the water in a drain down there swirls counterclockwise, unlike here? Weird, huh, and what’s with those platypusses...platypi? Who even knows?)?
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