Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief: February

New Mexican dispensaries with cartel ties, a report from the Roundhouse, the NBA, a really great pre-roll and more

Mmmm. Can you smell that? It’s sweet. It’s salty. It’s spicy. It’s downright delicious. Yesterday marked the first day of Santa Fe’s Restaurant Week, a glorious celebration of feasting that lasts until Feb. 29.

Why not toke up before you dine? Now that’s something to chew on. While reading, drooling slightly and rereading the menus of all featured restaurants and bakeries in this year’s lineup, it didn’t take the Leaf long to put the idea of puffing and munching together. Admittedly, she was a bit stoned while imagining every single appetizer, entree and dessert crossing over her lips and into her mouth.

Truly though, what could be better than a prix fixe menu? Sure, you’ll need to narrow down which appetizer, entree and dessert option sounds best, but there’s very limited decision making when compared to deciding what to order from an entire menu. Who needs that kind of stress?

If you’re feeling a little on the wild side, why not get a little cross faded? Maybe you light up a joint and then head to Sazón where you can experience the “Spirits of Mexico.” Learn about sotol, bacanora, tequila and mezcal and sip on a flight of homemade sangritas, plus try a tasting of homemade moles. Sazón, you had the Leaf at sangritas.

And read on for more cannabis news...

Is the Mexican cartel in New Mexico cannabis shops?

In a new twist on enforcement efforts, State Police helped the governor’s Organized Crime Commission deliver warrants at two Cannabis Revolution Dispensary locations in Albuquerque, leading to a reported discovery of $1 million in unlicensed product.

You might remember the name Cannabis Revolution Dispensary from back in October, when regulators went after parent company Golden Roots. As previously covered in Leaf Brief, regulators issued Golden Roots a slew of violations and fines, then revoked its license.

Sounds crazy? Just wait.

SFR reported ties between international crime organizations and Albuquerque dispensaries early last year, when a facility owner told a state investigator two of his partners were Sinaloa Cartel members and had been threatening his life. KRQE picked up the tale again last summer, reporting the two “businessmen” with alleged ties to the cartel were removed from the company’s cannabis license.

If you’re wondering how licenses were approved for alleged cartel members, the answer is a little shocking. The Cannabis Regulation Act includes a requirement that all applicants for a cannabis license have a national crime history background check conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation before approval. Makes sense. But it turns out national criminal background checks weren’t being conducted. Apparently no one actually confirmed with the FBI that the checks were happening and language in the bill was problematic—talk about a pretty big case of miscommunication. An effort in the 2023 legislative session to fix the issue failed.

Cannabis legislation in the Roundhouse

In the 2024 session, which concluded last week, House Bill 128 and its Senate companion Senate Bill 6, were attempts by sponsors Rep. Andrea Romero, D-Santa Fe, and Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, to amend the Cannabis Regulation Act to increase plant counts from 200-500 for microbusinesses.

SB6 received final Senate concurrence on Feb. 14 and heads to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s desk for consideration. It had quite the journey, with some interesting amendments and retractions along the way. Originally, the bills retained the act’s language prohibiting lawmakers who voted on legalization in 2021 from participating in the cannabis business until 2026—a stipulation intended to avoid conflicts of interest. But during the Senate committee process, legislators removed the provision.

Lawmakers in early committee discussions openly discussed other changes to the bill, but failed to mention the move to allow themselves earlier access to the cannabis business, a topic explored by New Mexico in Depth. Funny that a plan to prohibit drive-thru cannabis windows was debated at length and ultimately not included in the bill, while a major change to the original Cannabis Regulation Act involving the lawmakers themselves received much less time.

Once the bill made it to the House Judiciary Committee, the stricken language was returned to the bill, and its final form includes clearer language regarding FBI criminal background checks; restrictions on packaging to make it less attractive to children; and the increase in plant counts for microbusinesses. Plus, recreational cannabis would still be a no-no in prison and correctional facilities, but medicinal cannabis would be allowed when prescribed by a physician and entered through regular prison channels for both juvenile and adult detention facilities.

CBD Beverage is a Slam Dunk

Earlier this month the NBA announced a deal with MYND Drinks, making it the first CBD sponsorship in the league. The Brooklyn Nets and New York Liberty signed a multiyear partnership with the CBD company. The beverage—now the official wellness and recovery drink for both teams—will be available for purchase at the Barclays Center.

The sparkling elixir, which the Leaf has yet to taste-test, contains 25mg of CBD. The drinks are 100% plant based, non-GMO, contain no added sugar and come in flavors such as elderberry passionfruit, lemon ginger and orange mango.

This seems like a good time to point out that the NBA announced it would stop testing players for cannabis back in October 2021. Players would no longer be penalized for cannabis usage and they were also granted the freedom to invest in plant-based companies.The playing field, or court in this case, isn’t level, however, when it comes to cannabis use in the WNBA. The WNBA still tests players for cannabis, but allows for “limited use.” Fines and suspensions are handed out for repeat offenses. The Leaf was curious as to what “limited use” meant, but couldn’t find a definition. So restricted cannabis consumption and less pay for female athletes? Nothing to see here. Move along.

High Notes: A joint review

It wasn’t until I was aggressively cleaning the hair and fluff out of the bottom of my broom that I realized the pre-roll I smoked had me on a roll. I looked around. The kitchen sink was empty. The mound of dirty dishes that had been mocking my laziness for days were drying on the counter. The floor had been swept, the bathroom deep cleaned and, perhaps most surprisingly, I had folded all my clean clothes that I had washed earlier that same day at the laundromat. Christ, I had even put clean sheets on my bed.

About 30 minutes after giving the Cosmic Bebesita #1 pre-roll from NM Harvest a try, I had practically jumped off the couch. Usually I’m jumping onto the couch, not off it, but I felt so bloody fantastic that I didn’t have the head space to be startled by this new concept. I didn’t feel the pain in my neck. In fact, I forgot I had a neck. None of the cleaning I did felt like a chore. Gone was my procrastination for mundane tasks, and in its place I had become someone who just moved from one task to the next, seamlessly and without a bad attitude about it.

I picked up the pre-rollI on my first visit to the dispensary at 150 S St Francis Drive on the recommendation of a friendly budtender. In really great news, I learned Harvest will give you a free gram of your choice of flower on your birthday. Even better: They also honor the free gram on the day before and after your birthday, because let’s face it, most people are soaking for free at Ojo on their birthdays.

Shake: Odds and ends from New Mexico and beyond

  • Did you miss that big colorful box above? The nomination round for SFR’s Best of Santa Fe 2024 is underway. Take a few minutes to check out the four categories in the cannabis section before March 15: Best Budtender, Best Dispensary, Best Edible and Best Grower. The top six nominees in each category move on to the final ballot in May.
  • Could cannabis prevent COVID-19? Researchers from Dalhousie University in Canada say that cannabis has shown some potential in preventing viral entry and inflammation. But in another study about cannabis and COVID-19 that went viral, researchers from Oregon State University suggested certain cannabis compounds could “prevent as well as treat” COVID-19. The internet went nuts with this news. To be clear the study doesn’t claim you can smoke away your chances of getting sick. It may, however, help with symptoms and could potentially deter the virus from entering some cells.
  • It’s been said that if a chef is in a good place emotionally, then the food tastes better. Could that be the same with farmers and cannabis? “I’ve always felt in my bones that love-grown plants were superior to their counterparts grown like row crops purely for a profit, but until now, I couldn’t quantify ‘why’ in a meaningful way,” Allie Adams writes for High Times, “I knew it was better, because of how it made me feel, but I couldn’t prove it beyond anecdotal evidence. A vibe isn’t exactly a convincing argument, yet in a bizarre twist of fate, a vibe is exactly where this journey begins.” Happy farmer, happy plant?
  • On the federal scene, US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., along with Sens. Fetterman, D-Pa.; Chuck Schumer, D-New York; and Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont wrote a letter to the DEA, asking the agency to deschedule marijuana. Currently Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug. Don’t miss this interview on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in which Warren says, among other gems, “Let’s make marijuana legal. It shouldn’t be that hard.”

Thanks for reading Heidi Fillingim’s first edition of Leaf Brief. She’s a writer, sometime blogger and a fan of swimming, edibles, snacks and mini crossword puzzles. She lives in Santa Fe.

Letters to the Editor

Mail letters to PO Box 4910 Santa Fe, NM 87502 or email them to editor[at]sfreporter.com. Letters (no more than 200 words) should refer to specific articles in the Reporter. Letters will be edited for space and clarity.

We also welcome you to follow SFR on social media (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and comment there. You can also email specific staff members from our contact page.