Colorado cannabis industry leaders are preparing for a dip in sales now that New Mexico has legalized recreational marijuana.
Leaders in the recreational cannabis market of southern Colorado are expressing concern over the passing of New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulation Act and the effect it will have on their bottom lines. Colorado cities like Trinidad and Durango can thank New Mexicans for much of their success. Until New Mexico opens the doors for recreational retailers, residents have to make the drive to our northern neighbor to purchase marijuana.
Michael Evans, the general manager of The Other Place is Greener dispensary in Trinidad, told reporters at The Denver Channel that about 45 percent of his customers are from Texas and 20 percent are from New Mexico. “When New Mexico does go legal, we will literally be cut off at Raton Pass. They’ll have no reason to continue driving through New Mexico to come enjoy the benefits of our recreational marijuana,” he said.
This is one of those painful moments where the glacial effort by our state’s lawmakers to pass a recreational bill over the last decade really stings. Another state’s entrepreneurs are bemoaning a major loss of revenue from our residents. Let that sink in for a moment. How many millions of dollars slipped through our fingers to be gobbled up by others while our legislators sat on their hands? How many years did they hem and haw over topics that any person with Google and a spare hour could figure out?
All of this sudden change can be attributed to the loss of a small number of influential legislators who were ousted during the last election and replaced with progressive candidates who were pro-cannabis. Here’s the dirty secret: The power to do this has been with us—the voters—all along, but we squandered it. Thanks to the electoral college system, your vote for president amounts to a data point in a popularity survey. It doesn’t even matter. But when it comes to local elections, your vote absolutely counts. Don’t forget this moment. Remember the real power of voting down-ballot and keep up with future elections. The people you vote for today will be writing the laws of tomorrow.
Producer’s License Revoked
Last October Santa Fe-based New Mexicann Natural Medicine suffered an explosion at one of its locations when the company’s owner allegedly mishandled extraction equipment. Two employees were reportedly injured in the explosion. Now the state has revoked the company’s license, meaning it won’t be able to manufacture or sell cannabis, and the owner faces felony charges.
According to Santa Fe New Mexican, the company’s owner, Carlos Gonzales, was charged with two felony counts of arson in February. Gonzales allegedly removed a state-approved hot plate from the location’s extraction room and replaced it with one that violated manufacturing standards. When an employee later spilled an ethanol mixture onto the hot plate while performing an extraction, the mixture ignited and the subsequent explosion injured the employee and another who was in the room.
Last month the New Mexico Environment Department fined New Mexicann $142,000 for six violations that showed disregard for worker safety.
Health Secretary Tracie Collins said the company violated safety regulations and failed to provide proper safety training for its employees and ruled that its license be suspended.
This wasn’t the first time the company faced trouble over an on-premises explosion. In 2015 the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined New Mexicann $13,500 for 12 “serious” workplace violations following a similar extraction-related explosion.
Bipartisan Support For Veteran MMJ
The debate surrounding veteran access to medical cannabis is heating up.
Last week three bills aimed at improving research into the efficacy of medical marijuana for treating veterans were introduced in Congress, and bipartisan support for the bills makes their potential passage seem all the more promising.
Two versions of the bipartisan VA Medical Cannabis Research Act—one in the House and the other in the Senate—were introduced last week. The measures require the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct clinical trials on the effects of cannabis using different strains. The studies will examine the differences between strains with variable THC and CBD concentrations and their effectiveness in treating PTSD and chronic pain. The bill specifies the methodology to be used and requires the research of at least seven strain varieties with different profiles.
Last week GOP legislators also introduced the Veterans Cannabis Analysis, Research and Effectiveness (CARE) Act, which would require the VA to conduct and support research into cannabis’ efficacy as a treatment for veterans’ PTSD, chronic pain and any “other conditions the secretary determines appropriate.”
“For too long, veterans with mental or physical ailments have either gone untreated or have been prescribed addictive prescription medication that have caused their health to further deteriorate,” said co-sponsor Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Iowa) in a press release. “We need to give veterans and their doctors more access to effective treatments, not fewer.”
Lawmakers Want State Protections
A group of federal lawmakers are asking that protections for states that have legalized cannabis be included in the next federal spending bill.
Last week a letter signed by 44 lawmakers was sent to the leaders of the House Appropriations subcommittee that asked to bar the Department of Justice from using spending bill funds to enforce federal prohibitions in states that have legalized recreational cannabis. A similar amendment has been attached to the bill every year since 2014 that protects states where medical cannabis is legal.
Both protections have been voted on as amendments rather than being parts of the base bill. The letter writers are asking that they be included this time. The difference would be significant. It would mean that lawmakers would no longer have to vote on this specific area of the bill—it would automatically be included. In an interview with Marijuana Moment, Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) indicated that he wants the changes made permanent, but it’s unclear if it will be adopted this time around.
The letter also asks that—unlike previous amendments—the bill use language that is more broad when defining states and Native tribes rather than listing specific areas that have legalized.