Morning Word

Micro-Cannabis Businesses Say They’re Being Left Behind

Santa Fe parents plan protest over district mask decision

Micro-cannabis businesses left behind

recent question in Denver Westword newspaper’s “Ask a Stoner” column wondered whether one can take cannabis into New Mexico from Colorado, given that recreational adult sales won’t begin here until April 1. Short answer from the column: probably, although transporting marijuana over state lines is a federal crime (another way of answering this question might be: No.) More to the point, the “Stoner” notes that even when our recreational cannabis shops do open, “expect higher prices and fewer choices than you’re accustomed to, because only a short list of dispensaries will be open for recreational sales initially, and excited customers are willing to pay high prices during the honeymoon.” Don’t look to micro cannabis businesses to make up any shortfalls in the market. As SFR’s recent Leaf Brief newsletter notes, Senate Bill 100, which would have raised the plant counts for such businesses, died during this year’s budget-focused legislative session. The state used its rule-making process to temporarily increase counts for large producers amid concerns about a potential supply shortage, but left the smaller businesses governed only by statute and limited to growing no more than 200 plants. “We’re trying to remove all the barriers so they actually have a chance at success in a super competitive, highly regulated industry and you’re kicking the legs out from underneath them,” Ben Lewinger, executive director of the state Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, tells SFR. The disadvantage current roles pose to micro-businesses was one of several topics discussed yesterday during a public hearing on proposed changes to existing cannabis rules. Those changes, say some members of the nascent industry, are making the process of standing up their businesses more difficult. Said one: “There’s constant moving targets in this program, and we have not even begun.”

Parents plan protest over district mask decision

Nearly 60% of those surveyed about mask use in the Santa Fe Public School District did not want mask requirements lifted immediately, while 52.9% indicated they did not want them to remain for the rest of the school year. As such, on Monday, Santa Fe Public School Superintendent Hilario “Larry” Chavez announced SFPS would maintain masks until after spring break on March 21, at which point they will become optional. According to survey results released yesterday, just over 6,000 people responded to the weekend questionnaire, which the district distributed following Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s surprise Feb. 17 removal of the statewide mask mandate (the public health order requiring masks had been set to expire March 4). The largest group responding to the survey, parents, comprised more than 60% of the feedback (a small portion of which also are SFPS employees), with students coming in at 13.8% and teachers 10.7%. Of those who responded to the survey, 47.1% thought masks should be continued until the end of the school year, while 40.5% thought mask requirements should be lifted immediately. The option Chavez chose—waiting until after spring break to make masks optional—was the preference of 12.4% of the survey respondents. View the complete responses broken down by ZIP code here. As the Santa Fe New Mexican reports parents unhappy with the district’s decision who want masks removed immediately plan to protest at its Alta Vista administration building from 11 am to 2 pm today.

Lobbyist accuses senator of sexual harassment

In a letter released yesterday, lobbyist Marianna Anaya accused state Sen. Daniel Ivey-Soto, D-Albuquerque, chairman of the Senate Rules committee, of sexual harassment. Anaya’s letter alleges that when she was a staff member for Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham in 2015, Ivey-Soto “groped and pinched” her buttocks during an NEA reception at the Drury Hotel. The letter says Anaya last year disclosed the incident to fellow board members of an un-named organization, one of whom said she had had a similar experience. During the most recent legislative session, Anaya writes, during a meeting on the Voting Rights Act: “You skirted talking about the bill in order to chastise me for my prior calls for your resignation. When I confronted you about groping me, you acknowledged the event happened yet avoided responsibility for the harm you caused by saying ‘I’m sorry you experienced it that way.’ You proceeded to tell me that ‘it’s a bad time to be a legislator, because you get called out’—presumably for your disgusting behavior with women. You were drinking throughout our conversation. When you emptied a bottle of wine into my glass and I said it was too much, you told me it was not too much, and then forcefully told me to drink it. When I left, you asked if you could give me a ‘non-creepy hug.’ I quickly left your office.” The letter calls for Ivey-Soto’s resignation and says Anaya will be filing an anti-harassment complaint with the Legislature. The Albuquerque Journal reports Ivey-Soto denied the allegations and characterized himself as “completely befuddled.” Ivey-Soto also told the Journal there was “nothing sexual” between him and Anaya and that she is a lesbian. Anaya’s attorney, Levi Monagle, pointed out that “it is entirely possible and entirely common for vulnerable individuals to experience sexual harassment that flies in the face of their sexual orientation.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Yes, dear readers, your eyes do not deceive. Based on an informal survey conducted psychically, many Morning Word readers would like to continue having easy daily access to COVID-19 data (which we remain committed to delivering), but would rather said data not be placed prominently at the start of the newsletter. This minor redesign dovetails with the health department’s recent emphasis on the declining importance of daily case counts (given the increase of unreported home tests). SFR talked over the weekend with Acting Health Secretary Dr. David Scrase about the pandemic’s changing metrics; DOH’s planned outreach to immunocompromised people in the wake of the rescinded indoor mask mandate; and other shifts in the COVID environment. Scrase also is expected to discuss these topics during a weekly COVID-19 briefing at 1 pm today, which will stream live on the DOH Facebook page and with Spanish translation on Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s YouTube page.

Feb. 22

New cases: 398;509,178 total

Top three counties: Bernalillo County with 139; Sandoval County with 48; McKinley County with 28.

Santa Fe County: 20

Breakthrough cases: According to the most recent weekly vaccine report, between Jan. 24-Feb. 21, 48.9% of COVID-19 cases were among people who had not completed a primary vaccination series; 29.5% were among those who had completed the series but had not received a booster; and 21.6% were among those who were fully vaccinated and boosted. For hospitalizations, those figures change to 64.2%, 20.1% and 15.6%. The percentages shift to 61.7%, 22.5% and 15.8% for fatalities.

Deaths: 27, 19 of them recent; 6,821 total fatalities

Hospitalizations: As of yesterday, 351 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, a 24% decline from a week ago

Vaccinations:

• 91.8% percent of adults 18 years and older have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 78% have completed their primary series

• 44% of adults 18 years and older have had a booster shot

• 12-17-year-old age group: 70.9% of people have had at least one dose and 60.8% have completed their primary series

• Children ages 5-11: 38% have had at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine and 28.8% have completed their primary

• Santa Fe County, 99% of people 18 and older have had at least one dose and 86.9% have completed their primary series

Resources:

• Vaccine registration

• Booster registration

• Free COVID-19 at home rapid antigen tests

• Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department

• Information on COVID-19 oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments.

People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453.

You can read all of SFR’s COVID-19 coverage here.

Listen up

In the Public Education Department’s most recent Instruction Interruption podcast, “Alternative Pathways,” 2022 New Mexico Teacher of the Year Lorynn Guerrero kicks off Season 3 as the new host and sits down with two charter school leaders to talk about how educators can meet the needs of all students regardless of their circumstances: Margarita Porter, superintendent principal at the New American School in Las Cruces and Elizabeth Dorado, executive director at Gordon Bernell in Albuquerque.

Tastes of home

The Smithsonian magazine talks with Cynthia Chavez Lamar (San Felipe Pueblo, Hopi, Tewa and Diné), the new director of the National Museum of the American Indian, the first Indigenous woman to lead a Smithsonian museum and former director of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque and the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe. Chavez Lamar grew up in the Pueblo of San Felipe and tells the magazine she returns home for feast days and “maintains a strong bond” with the community and her family: Her father Richard and brother Jared are well-known jewelers, and her mother Sharon is a potter and oversees the meals during their pueblo’s feast. Among other topics, Chavez Lamar discuses how food is tied to her heritage and which foods remind her of home, saying: “The food that always comes to mind is red chile. I know most people prefer green chile, but I guess you had to have grown up in New Mexico to develop a taste for red. When there’s a cultural activity at home, there are always specific foods that are made, although it does vary by family. Beans, posole, oven bread, frybread, green chile stew, red chile and fluffy. Fluffy is what my extended family calls a dessert that is primarily made with Jello and Cool Whip. If I go way back to childhood one of my favorite food memories is breakfast and having Spam mixed with eggs, rolled up in a tortilla.”

Hot birthday

Zozobra turns 100 in two years, which means it’s time to start planning. The Kiwanis Club of Santa Fe is seeking interested community members to join its Zozobra Centennial Committee—five positions available—which will meet for one hour each month over the next two years to help plan a gala Centennial event. Apply here by 5 pm, March 15; new committee members will be notified by March 18. For those unable to volunteer for the committee, but brimming with ideas for the centennial, send them to zozobra100@burnzozobra.com. “We are looking for ideas on how to make that entire year special and stand out,” Zozobra Event Chairman Ray Sandoval tells SFR. “We are looking for ideas for the actual event. And we are looking for ideas that commemorate the hundredth anniversary for a very long time.” To get into the mood, read up on some of the history of The Burning of Will Shuster’s Zozobra and watch last year’s burn (also the drone footage from 2020 when the pandemic kept the crowds away is pretty cool).

Whichever way the wind blows

Today should be mostly sunny with a high near 46 degrees but super windy with gusts as high as 40 mph. The wind will continue to blow into the night. Chances for rain start after 5 pm at about 30% and increase to a 50% chance of overnight snow showers with maybe one inch accumulation.

Thanks for reading! The Word found this story about newspapers’ 1920s view of crossword puzzles as a “national menace” kind of hilarious (possibly as entertaining as Wordle).

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