Morning Word

Cannabis Equity Experts Advocate Co-Op Licenses, Reinvestment Fund

NM Governor’s race heats up

Cannabis advocates promote co-op licenses, reinvestment fund

In many ways, New Mexico leads among states in terms of the “social equity provisions” built into its nascent adult cannabis use market, New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee Chair Emily Kaltenbach says. Kaltenbach and officials from the state Regulation and Licensing Department, which oversees the Cannabis Control Division, briefed lawmakers on the Legislature’s Courts, Corrections & Justice Committee yesterday on the state of the industry so far and some potential adjustments going forward. CRAC’s 2023 legislative recommendations—based largely on polling and feedback it conducted—include creating a new co-op license type, as well as a community reinvestment fund into which 40% of cannabis excise tax revenue would be used to support communities disproportionately affected by past federal and state drug policies with housing, job placement, mental health treatment and other services. Advocates and CCD officials also plan to return to the plant count issue for micro-business after a bill that would have raised those plant counts failed in last year’s session. RLD officials hope to create a public records exception that would allow them to shield inspection and compliance reports until investigations have been completed, comparable to the exceptions utilized by law enforcement, Andrew Vallejos, director of the Alcoholic Beverage Control Staff, said (perhaps unaware of the long thorny history of that particular provision). State officials also shared with lawmakers data collected thus far related to cannabis license holders. Among other data points, thus far, of the 2,075 “controlling persons” associated with more than 1,025 licenses, 46% identify as a racial minority, they said.

Governor’s race heats up

The Albuquerque Journal reports Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was unavailable for a Monday Albuquerque business forum in the governor’s race because she was already scheduled for political events in Colorado, including a Democratic Governors Association conference. Lujan Grisham’s absence continues to make headlines with criticisms from her Republican opponent Mark Ronchetti and others for missing the event and for not disclosing she was out of state (Ronchetti faced similar criticism from his GOP opponents during last spring’s primary election). The governor’s campaign spokesperson Delaney Corcoran has said the campaign offered event organizers other dates but they declined scheduling the event when the governor was available. The governor’s campaign yesterday released its newest campaign television ad, which makes no mention of her opponent. Rather, Lujan Grisham’s husband Manny Cordova talks about his wife’s work ethic: “I grew up on a small ranch in Valencia County,” Cordova says in the ad. “My first body shop was in my backyard. Since then, I’ve owned three of ‘em. I know about hard work…and long commutes. But the hardest-working person I know is my wife.”

NM scientists announce discovery of new ancient dinosaur species

ICYMI, a team of paleontologists, including two from the New Mexico Museum of Natural History & Science announced on Monday their discovery of a new species of horned dinosaur in 74-million-year-old rocks south of Farmington (here’s a rendering). The team, which includes NMMNHS Curator Spencer Lucas and Research Associate Sebastian Dalman, along with Steven E. Jasinski from Harrisburg University, named the dinosaur Bisticeratops froeseorum (pronounced “Biss-tie-SAYR-uh-tops frose-e-or-um”), after the Bisti/De-na-zin Wilderness area where the fossil was collected, and for the Froese family of the musical group Tangerine Dream, one of Dalman’s favorite bands. “Bisticeratops adds to the diversity of Late Cretaceous horned dinosaurs from New Mexico,” Lucas said in a statement. “It shows that important discoveries and analyses continue to be made in the state in our effort to understand better the history of dinosaurs during the last few million years before their extinction.” According to a news release announcing the discovery, the fossil includes most of the dinosaur’s skull andshows bite marks from a large predatory dinosaur, probably a tyrannosaur.” Bisticeratops adds to New Mexico’s fossil records and joins other recently described horned dinosaurs from New Mexico—Navajoceratops, Terminocavus and Sierraceratops—”in identifying what looks like a unique fauna of horned dinosaurs that lived in New Mexico 73 to 75 million years ago.”

COVID-19 by the numbers

Reported Aug. 23

New cases: 649; 607,443 total cases

Deaths: 13; Santa Fe County has had 338 total deaths; there have been 8,378 fatalities statewide. Statewide hospitalizations: 128. Patients on ventilators: 13

Case rates: According to the state health department’s most recent report on geographical trends for the seven-day period of Aug. 15-21, Santa Fe County’s case rate continues to decline and was at 20.5 compared to 26.3 the prior week. The state recorded 3,839 cases statewide—based on reported cases—over the seven-day period, a nearly 15% decrease from the previous week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent update for COVID-19 “community levels,” Santa Fe County has green, or low levels. The state map, which updates each Thursday for the prior seven-day period, uses a framework that combines case rates with hospital metrics. Santa Fe is now one of 13 counties with green or low levels and only four—down from 11 last week—have “red” or high levels. The community levels site has accompanying recommendations at the bottom of the page. The CDC also provides a quarantine and isolation calculator.

Resources: Vaccine registration; Booster registration Free at-home rapid antigen tests; Self-report a positive COVID-19 test result to the health department; COVID-19 treatment info: oral treatments Paxlovid (age 12+) and Molnupiravir (age 18+); and monoclonal antibody treatments. Toolkit for immunocompromised individuals. People seeking treatment who do not have a medical provider can call NMDOH’s COVID-19 hotline at 1-855-600-3453. Vaccines for children: Parents of children ages 6 months to 5 years can now schedule appointments for vaccinations at

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

Listen up

In collaboration with New Mexico In Depth, the most recent episode of PBS New Mexico’s In Focus program includes a roundtable discussion (Part 1 and Part 2) on alcohol use in New Mexico, based on journalist Ted Alcorn’s seven-part “Blind Drunk” series. In addition to Alcorn, guests include University of New Mexico Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology Kamilla Venner; Dr. Jennie Wei, an internal medicine physician at Gallup Indian Medical Center; and state Rep. Joanne Ferrary, D-Las Cruces.


Props keep coming for New Mexico wines. Yesterday morning, we mentioned Best Life recently included Albuquerque in its list of top 10 cities for wine lovers (but forgot to include to the link—sorry about that). Bloomberg yesterday showcased Vara Winery & Distillery, also in Albuquerque, which will apparently be opening a new Santa Fe tasting room, Vara Vinoteca at some point this summer (a representative at the winery’s California-based public relations firm, Jarvis Communications, tells SFR the Santa Fe tasting room is likely to open here in September and will be located next to the Eldorado Hotel). Vara debuted two new unusual American sparkling wines this month, Bloomberg reports. Vara’s “team of all-star winemakers, distillers, and chefs create everything from wines to vermouth, gin, and rum,” the story notes, some of which “succeed brilliantly,” and “others are works in progress. But all echo New Mexico’s centuries-deep wine history, which predates California’s by—this is not a misprint—140 years. These bottlings and projects join the push to expand the innovation happening among the state’s 1,000 acres of vineyards and 60 wineries.” The story delves into New Mexico’s wine history and talks with Laurent Gruet, the winemaker behind Vara’s new sparkling offerings. His family launched the Gruet winery in 1987. “People said we were crazy when my family arrived from Champagne 40 years ago,” he tells Bloomberg. “But the hot days, cool nights, high altitude, and dry climate add up to a long growing season and weather that preserves the acidity in the grapes that sparkling wines need.”

Chef Olea’s recs for Santa Fe

Where does 2022 James Beard-award winning Chef Fernando Olea like to hang out in Santa Fe? Besides his restaurant, Sazón, that is? Sunset features Olea in its Insider Guide to Santa Fe, for which Olea provides a few dining recommendations, including Tomasita’s for “classic Northern New Mexican cuisine,” including “the best frozen margaritas and swirls;” more margarita options courtesy Maria’s New Mexican Kitchen; Geronimo Restaurant for “elegant decor and romantic ambiance;” and Restaurant Martín for James Beard-nominated chef Martin Rios’ “progressive American cuisine.” Olea also has suggestions for museums, hotels and shopping, with his picks for the latter category including The Palace of the Governors and its portal on the plaza for “authentic Native American jewelry;” along with jewelry shopping at Eternity, Bella and Rocki Gorman Gallery. Looking for Western wear? Olea suggests Maverick’s.

Wet and wild

Santa Fe could see some scattered showers and thunderstorms after noon with a 30% chance for precipitation. Otherwise, expect partly sunny skies with a high near 79 degrees. The National Weather Service forecasts temperatures creeping back into the 80s starting tomorrow. The monsoon season, officials say, has led to flooding across the state (including at Carlsbad Caverns National Park, where flooding last weekend stranded more than 150 visitors).

Thanks for reading! The Word has fallen down a musical rabbit hole that began with the recent Ak Dan Gwag Chil (ADG7) Tiny Desk concert.

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