Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief: December 2023

Gift, mix and mingle with cannabis news

The Leaf wasn’t able to personally hit up the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Merry Mary Jane Mingle at Meow Wolf last week, but reports from our spies at the event said it made good use of the trippy exhibit space, with info tables from the likes of WeedmapsGhost and Bloom hidden among the corridors, just inside the fridge and other spots. Too bad state laws mean samples are still out of the question. (And, shout-out to the woman working door security who had to tell every single person to take their cannabis back to the car.)

A few days earlier, the High Times Cannabis Cup New Mexico took place at the Rio Rancho Events Center. The contest boasted 11 categories with first, second, and third place winners in each.

Prohibition 37 (1089 S. St. Francis Drive) earned second place in sativa flower for its Tropical Runtz and another second for its Red Runtz 51 pre-roll. Among other winners, ABQ’s Mountaintop Extracts won best topical for its Wonder Bear Salve (and no need to wonder, the Leaf uses it himself for his creaky joints, with excellent results), and it also earned second place in for its Nuclear Sunset Infused Pre-Roll.

According to High Times writers, “Q Bone, Snoop Dogg’s own personal chef, [whipped] up some of Snoop’s best munchie recipes” for the crowd at the awards show. There was a joint-rolling contest, glass blowing demos and “headlining the event was the iconic stoner duo Method Man and Redman, responsible for some of the best hip-hop to come from Def Jam.”

Method Man also announced his Tical cannabis brand will be available in New Mexico, starting in Carlsbad’s Cave City and Altitude Dispensary in Rio Rancho. Company officials told the Leaf the company is also hoping to announce a Santa Fe partner by the end of the month.

And read on for more cannabis news...

CBD use climbs 50% over four years

CBD use has increased by 50% since 2019, according to a survey recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. About one in five respondents, or 25.2% of participants, reported “past-year use of any emerging cannabinoid” such as CBD, Delta-8-THC, CBG or CBN.

“There are few controlled human studies with emerging cannabinoids,” the survey summary reads, “but surveys suggest these products are used for treating sleep or pain and in place of other drugs, including pain medications.”

The cross-sectional survey study of adults 18 years or older used the National Opinion Research Center AmeriSpeak panel between June 22 and 26, 2023. Researchers also highlighted “the importance of future research to better understand perceptions of safety, motivations for use, and outcomes of use of these products.”

Smoke it or eat it?

Getting back to THC-based cannabis, Susan Royl compared edibles with smokables for MSN, saying, “Edibles and flower can range from granola bars to brownies, to cookies, to gummies, and many more.

Flower, “the bloom, bud, or leaves of the cannabis plant, produces a more immediate effect when smoked or vaped due to the ability for it to enter the bloodstream more readily and quickly. It includes a variety of flowers like Indica and Sativa.”

Royl continued, “Edibles are cannabis-infused products that are typically much easier to dose than flower. As the effects of edibles can take up to 1 to 2 hours to peak, it can be a great way to control the intensity of one’s cannabis experience. However, it is slower to take effect, and can be difficult to know precisely how much one has consumed.

“Flower, on the other hand, provides a quicker and more familiar experience for beginners. The effects of smoking flower come on much more quickly, and the flavors and smells can be more potent. This makes it easier to distinguish between higher and lower doses.”

The Leaf agrees the question comes down to your experience, convenience and what you want to feel. For example, if you like to puff a little and then puff a little more later, consider where you’re going to be. A single edible may last longer than two or three smoke breaks, so if you’re going to be somewhere less smoke-friendly, pop a gummy (the Leaf prefers lemon).

CCD recommends stripping Estancia company after investigation

State officials have charged Dineh Benally, owner of the Native American Agricultural Development Co. in Estancia, with multiple infractions of cannabis licensing laws. After a hearing on Dec. 1 at the Seventh Judicial District Court in Estancia, the Cannabis Control Division recommended that Benally be stripped of his cultivation license for the large-scale Torrance County farm, according to Glen Rosales in the Independent News.

Cannabis Division Counsel Robert Sachs listed seven violations, including exceeding the grow limit of 1,000 plants (by about 40,000 plants), failing to pay fees for the extra plants, failing to use plant-tracking software, unsafe working conditions and a lack of security surveillance system.

At the hearing, Rosales wrote, Benally said, “These violations can be taken care of, they can be addressed…As far as taking away the license, it will be difficult because there is so much money and time involved. [It took] almost two years just to get the license.”

Rosales continued, “The company faced certain challenges that other, more established growing operations did not,” Benally said, adding he was hospitalized and lost oversight control.

“‘We are a new company,’ he said. ‘Native American-owned, trying to establish ourselves to work with the state and the county. We’re putting in so much money before it can even get off the ground. And with the health issue I had, thank God I recovered, companies are a little more fortunate because in that they have more experience working with the outside (workers), versus myself. I’m Native American and I’m working with non-Natives who are experts at growing. I’ll be truthful, I don’t appreciate some of the racial overtones that have come out from what I had heard. We’re all humans here and we’re trying to make a living, regardless of whether Asian or non-Asian, Navajo or non-Navajo. White, black, Mexican or non-Mexican. We’re all humans.’”

Benally has had legal run-ins with cannabis grow operations before. Searchlight New Mexico’s Ed Williams reported alleged human trafficking in 2020 on the Navajo Nation, then raised questions about why the state gave Denally a state permit for cultivation this year.

CCD officials gave Benally until Dec. 8 to respond before issuing a final ruling.

Andrea Brown, PR specialist for the RLD, told the Leaf last week, “The case is still going through the administrative process…The CCD is awaiting the report from the hearing officer and then will make the final determination. The defendant had until December 8 to submit his own findings of fact and conclusions of law to the hearing officer. However, the CCD is unsure if the defendant submitted anything as he’s responsible for getting them to the hearing officer.”

The gift that really gives

The good folks at Hearst Newspaper Group’s Green State know what’s what and what time of year is it, so they put together a guide to cannabis gift giving (legal disclaimer: sending weed to non-legal states could land you in the soup, so know what you’re doing before thinking about sending Uncle Ernie that free pre-roll you scored at your local).

“There are a few things to remember. From the potential receiver’s personality to brand quality, make sure to keep the following in mind while making that list and checking it twice,” Rachelle Gordon, GS’s editor, wrote for those considering green gifts.

Gordon added, “While cannabis is legal in 38 states, rules around gifting vary. In California, adults can give each other up to one ounce” (wow, that’s a friend indeed; you’ll want to reciprocate with more than a chunky fruitcake next year). “Always make sure to research the regulations in your city and state before deciding to wrap those buds.”

Another friendly reminder: “You also want to double-check if the recipient has any allergies or dietary restrictions. Offering indulgent milk chocolate to a vegan is not the move.” (As a committed vegetarian, I concur with this approach and recommend we all reduce our meat consumption next year; you’ll feel better and the world will be a little kinder…moo!).

And social equity is big in the cannabis industry, so heed this tip: “The justice-minded opt to support local, women, and minority-owned businesses. Ask the dispensary staff if they have any social equity or legacy brands on the shelves. Some companies also donate a portion of sales to nonprofits—it’s the gift that keeps on giving!”

However you choose to share your fondness for the bud or edibles, do so responsibly; that way, you and your friends can enjoy now yourselves and into the New Year.

Shake: Odds and ends from New Mexico and beyond

  • Twenty-three members of two organized crime gangs were arrested following break-ins at 40 Mile High herb shops, Jacob Factor reported in the Denver Post. The arrests came after joint (pun intended) investigations by the Denver District Attorney’s Office, Denver Police Department, Aurora Police Department, FBI, ATF, the Regional Anti-Violence Enforcement Network and the Violent Criminal Enterprise Task Force. More than $700,000 in cash, product and vehicles were allegedly stolen, according to Factor’s story. Charges include aggravated robbery, kidnapping, illegal possession of firearms and violating the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act. Alt-weekly Westword also got in on the action, reporting from the arrest warrant and other documents that beginning in 2022 and continuing into this year, the group allegedly used Facebook Messenger to coordinate the thefts, which often began as a car-jacking followed by armed robbery at a dispensary.
  • The Hill’s Lauren Irwin quoted US Rep. James Comer, R-Kentucky, as saying he’d support taxing and regulating cannabis in Washington DC. Comer, the chair of the House Oversight and Accountability Committee, said he spoke with DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser, according to a story in Politico. Cannabis was decriminalized in DC in 2014, but the presence of the federal government, which has not changed the herb’s status, can cause problems. In March, GOP chose not to rescind the “Harris rider,” which outlaws recreational cannabis sales. According to Irwin, “Local officials have pushed Congress to remove the rider by arguing that the cash-only market has caused more robberies and other violent crime.”
  • New Jersey’s cannabis agency “has lowered registration costs to just $10 every two years, down from $50 for most patients.” Enrollment in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has been declining since the state launched recreational marijuana sales in April 2022, officials with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission said at their meeting. The number of medical marijuana patients has tumbled to fewer than 94,000, down from 128,000 when recreational cannabis sales started.” There are 9.2 million people living in the Garden State. In comparison, New Mexico, with 2.1 million residents, has 84,900 patients enrolled in its medical program; SFR’s Julia Goldberg reported on the drop in enrollment last month.
  • New Mexico reports November total cannabis sales at $46.5 million, with $34.4 million coming from recreational sales alone.

Normally, the Leaf would ask everyone to support their favorite local shelter or sanctuary, such as our Blue Rose of Hope Animal Sanctuary in Springer (or even Friends of the Reporter), but this holiday season, please consider contributing to the Last Prisoner Project. The cannabis industry has become lucrative and widespread, but casualties of the War on Drugs fill state and federal lockups. LPP’s website says, “Make a donation so we can free the last cannabis prisoner.”

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