Writing off pot
New Mexico's Court of Appeals has ruled that medical marijuana producers can claim a tax deduction for prescription medicine. The decision stemmed from a lawsuit by medical marijuana producer Sacred Garden against the state Taxation and Revenue Department, which denied Sacred Garden's refunds of gross receipt taxes. The court ruled that because Sacred Garden is licensed under the state's Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, the denial was incorrect. The tax department—for which the financial implications of the decision could be in the multimillions—has until Feb. 27 to appeal, with officials saying they are considering their legal options. Ultra Health President and CEO Duke Rodriguez, whose company is one of the state's largest licensed medical cannabis producers, told the Albuquerque Journal that tax claims could range from several hundred thousand dollars to several million dollars. "I think it's good news, because we should never tax food or medicine," he said.
Plame leads in fundraising
Candidates in the June 3 primary election for New Mexico's 3rd Congressional District have filed their year-end fundraising reports with the Federal Election Commission, with Democrat Valerie Plame raising the most—$1.1 million by the end of 2019—so far ($TNM). Plame, a former CIA agent, was followed by Santa Fe lawyer Teresa Leger Fernandez, who raised $682,397 last year. Santa Fe District Attorney Marco Serna came in third with $502,958. In the Republican primary, candidates Anise Golden Morper, Karen Bedonie, Audra Lee Brown and Alexis Johnson filed year-end reports with smaller amounts raised. US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan, the Democrat who currently represents the district, filed a year-end report for his run for US Senate: he raised $3.5 million last year and has $2 million in cash on hand.
Looking back at Old Main
The Albuquerque Journal marked yesterday's 40-year anniversary of the prison riots at the New Mexico State Penitentiary in a multi-part series, "Revisiting the Nightmare." On Feb. 2, 1980, inmates housed in "The Main," dormitory E-2, came up with a plan to overtake the prison. The uprising followed other problems spurred by overcrowding and poor conditions. The series includes historical photographs from the era, as well as an assessment of the riot's impact into today. Graphics include a timeline of the events leading into and out of the riot, as well as historical documents produced in 1980. The prison riot led to the Duran Consent Decree, which governs prisoner treatment, and was named after Dwight Duran, a prisoner who smuggled out of the prison a hand-written lawsuit against the Department of Corrections alleging inhumane conditions. Read The Santa Fe New Mexican's take here.
Gun rights rally
Gun-rights advocates rallied at the Roundhouse on Friday, spurred by opposition to a proposed law in this year's Legislature that would allow law enforcement to confiscate weapons by people deemed a threat to themselves or others. State Rep. Gregg Schmedes, a Tijeras Republican, spoke at the rally, saying: "This is about gun confiscation, pure and simple." Some sheriffs and district attorneys also denounced the proposed law, with John Sugg, district attorney for Lincoln and Otero counties, saying: "It has significant constitutional issues and it provides great potential for abuse." SB 5, aka the Extreme Risk Firearm Protection Order Act, is backed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and currently is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
At the end of January, the Santa Fe Arts Commission underwent some notable changes, becoming a standalone Arts and Culture Department. In the latest episode of SFR's "Reported" podcast, Arts and Culture Editor Alex DeVore interviews Santa Fe Arts and Culture Department Director Pauline Kanako Kamiyama and newly-appointed Commission Chair Alex Hanna. Tune in to find out what's in store for arts programming on the Southside and the city as a whole.
DH Lawrence in NM
British author DH Lawrence and his wife Frieda came to New Mexico in the fall of 1922: "They were heeding the siren song of the bohemian socialite Mabel Dodge Luhan, who writes in Lorenzo in Taos that her psychic transatlantic call to Lawrence, 'Come, Lawrence! Come to Taos!' was 'not prayer, but command. Only those who have exercised it know its danger.'" So recounts Molly Boyle in the latest installment of her occasional SFR column, "Reading in the Arroyo," in which she explores a new/old collection of Lawrence essays compiled in The Bad Side of Books, and speaks with University of New Mexico English Professor Feroza Jussawalla, a Lawrence specialist, about the author's legacy.
Removal of Siberian elms is currently underway in the Railyard Park and will continue through today, according to a city press release on its forestry efforts. The city says Siberian elms are negatively impacting the Cottonwoods planted in the park alongside them a decade ago, and notes that the trees are a non-native species "that produces millions of seeds every spring that float on the breezes and germinate everywhere." Volunteers have been removing sprouting weeds by hand as chemicals are not used in the 10-acre park.
In the soup
Chocolate cherry Espelette pepper soup. That was the winner, courtesy of L'Olivier, at Saturday's Souper Bowl fundraiser ($TNM) in the overall best soup category. Approximately 1,200 attendees attended and also voted on soups in the savory, vegetarian, cream and seafood categories, presented by 24 Santa Fe chefs. Agave Restaurant and Lounge won for savory; Jambo Café for the vegetarian category; Del Charro at the Inn of the Governors for cream; and Santa Fe School of Cooking won in the seafood category. The annual event—this year was its 26th year—benefits The Food Depot.
Punxsutawney Phil says
Yesterday was 60 degrees. Today, there's a 20% chance it will snow. We call it spring, except it's actually winter. And by we, we mean Punxsutawney Phil, who yesterday, aka Groundhog Day, decreed an "early spring is a certainty." You can watch that happen here. If it does rain or snow today, it will be after 11 am. Otherwise, mostly sunny with a high temp near 50. Winds could get up to 15 to 25 mph in the afternoon. Snow chances increase to 40% tonight, primarily before 11 pm. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible. Tuesday and Tuesday night both calling for a 30% chance of snow, then back to sunny on Wednesday, with highs near 30.