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K-9 Units Face Early Retirement

New Mexico police departments are finding that replacing drug-sniffing dogs can be expensive.

Thanks to the legalization of cannabis, police departments across the state will be forced to retire any drug detecting dogs that were trained to search for marijuana. The dogs are usually trained to detect a number of different drugs, and that cross-specialty could lead to potentially precarious legal situations for officers as it could arguably negate probable cause.

According to a Department of Public Safety report, replacing the dogs and training new units could cost New Mexico State Police over $192,000.

Albuquerque Police Department only has one drug-sniffing dog on the force, and representatives have told reporters that they don’t plan on retiring it. In spite of the probable cause issues that can potentially cause problems. “Just because the laws around marijuana have changed does not mean we will retire ours. There will always be a need for drug detection K-9s, especially when making large drug seizures,” an APD spokesperson said, according to KOB.

CCD is Open and Hiring

When the Cannabis Regulation Act passed, it required the formation of the Cannabis Control Division to regulate the new market. Steps to form the division began even before the bill was signed, and it seems like officials are ready to start staffing the agency.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department—which oversees the division—is seeking to fill the positions of director, division counsel, deputy director of business operations, business operations call center manager, budget manager, licensing manager and executive assistant.

Regulation and Licensing Superintendent Linda Trujillo told reporters, “These positions are essential to the overall goal to roll out commercial cannabis sales while safeguarding public health and safety.” The division will continue to look for new applicants until these positions are filled.

Officials Buck MMJ Tax Breaks

The New Mexico Taxation and Revenue Department says legislators did not intend for companies to receive gross receipts tax deductions on medical cannabis sales prior to this year.

According to NM Political Report, medical cannabis producer Sacred Garden requested to deduct gross receipts taxes from its sales for last year based on a New Mexico Court of Appeals panel ruling that found that cannabis “recommendations” from a doctor are no different than “prescriptions” and should be subject to the same rules that govern other prescriptions in the state—namely, that their gross receipts taxes be deducted.

But last week the Attorney General’s Office filed a brief with the New Mexico Supreme Court on behalf of the TRD arguing that legislators purposefully did not include the term “prescription” in the state’s medical cannabis law to protect doctors from federal prosecution. The agency claims that the decision was made even while legislators knew that gross receipts taxes were only deductible for prescription purchases.

In the brief Special Assistant Attorney General Cordelia Friedman said the State Supreme Court “should reject the concept that, under New Mexico state law, marijuana, a federally controlled substance, can be legally ‘prescribed’ for use by any person.”

“These issues demonstrate that the purported statutory construction analysis by the [New Mexico Court of Appeals] was incorrectly done and failed to provide the substantiation necessary to support that court’s conclusion,” she wrote.

The brief also contradicts the court of appeals’ conclusion that the omission of language regarding tax revenue in a legislative fiscal impact report on the medical cannabis law implies that lawmakers intended cannabis companies to receive gross receipts tax deductions.

The problem should be moot starting next year, however. The Cannabis Regulation Act specifically states that going forward, gross receipts taxes from medical cannabis will be deductible.

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