Last week the New Mexico Finance Authority Oversight Committee approved a measure that will provide loans to cannabis microbusinesses.

The recently introduced measure will give cannabis producers that grow or sell less than 200 plants at a time access to loans of up to $250,000. The state’s Cannabis Regulation Act requires the creation of programs to fund and encourage small business owners looking to take part in the industry.

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, CEO of the New Mexico Finance Authority Marquita D. Russel said the agency expects the average awarded loan to be around $100,000. Those seeking loans will have to provide a personal guarantee of repayment on a five-year contract and a minimum of 5 percent equity. Applicants will also have to provide at least three years of financial projections. Interest rates for the loans will reportedly be 2 to 3 percent.

The loans are meant to be used for the purchase and maintenance of properties and equipment.

Whistleblowers Join Lawsuit Against CCD

On Wednesday a New Mexico state district judge heard a lawsuit against the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (RLD) claiming that it violated state personnel codes by relocating offices from Albuquerque to Santa Fe. Now employees have added a Whistleblower Protection Act claim to the suit, alleging that the department retaliated when they reported that a company was growing cannabis illegally.

According to NM Political Report, RLD was tipped off in July that that medical cannabis producer Budding Hope was allegedly growing “over 6,000 plants illegally.” Emails obtained by reporters show that the RLD investigated the matter and told the company to keep the illegal plants but attach biotrack numbers to them and submit the new plants with its license renewal.

The new claims that were added to the lawsuit allege that the CCD failed to act on the warning and retaliated against employees for alerting the department about the problem.

CDC Advises Companies on Drugged Driving

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently advised companies that employ drivers to develop cannabis policies that reflect states’ laws while still curbing drugged driving.

According to the CDC, cannabis is second only to alcohol as the most frequently detected drug in post-crash testing. The agency noted that while cannabis is dangerous to use before driving, “marijuana’s specific contribution to crash risk is unclear because it can be detected in body fluids for days or even weeks after use.”

The CDC says that a zero-tolerance policy may not be possible in areas where cannabis is legal and advises companies to prohibit its use during work hours for drivers. The agency also suggests partnering with an attorney well-versed in local cannabis laws and making drug testing policies explicitly clear.

Companies were also told to consider introducing training to recognize the signs of driving under the influence of cannabis and to provide access to drug counseling for employees.