Last week the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department’s (RLD) Cannabis Control Division (CCD) announced that it had approved the state’s first marijuana retail and manufacturing licenses.

“With each day New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis industry is growing,” said Cannabis Control Division Director Kristen Thomson. “Bringing manufacturers and retailers online is an important milestone that allows more businesses, entrepreneurs and communities to maximize the economic opportunities adult-use cannabis sales will provide. These three licensees alone plan to hire nearly 130 full- and part-time workers.”

According to a press release, the first two retail licenses were issued to Enchanted Botanicals and Dulce Cannabis—both based in Albuquerque. Enchanted Botanicals plans to open two locations in the city, and Dulce Cannabis plans to open one shop.

The first manufacturing license was issued to the Clovis-based Vana—a minority, woman-owned business. Vana also plans to open retail locations in the future.

“This is an exciting time for New Mexico’s new cannabis industry,” said Thomson. “These licenses are historic and not only move New Mexico forward, but also reflect New Mexico values of social equity and fairness.”

The CCD says it still has at least 285 cannabis business applications to review. As of this writing, the division has approved 14 new producer licenses and renewed the licenses for 34 legacy medical cannabis producers. The CCD has also approved 13 new premises.

Retail cannabis sales are set to begin April 1.

Security Clearance Policy Change

A top U.S. intelligence official has instructed federal employers to overlook past cannabis use when determining whether someone can receive national security clearance.

ClearanceJobs—a career networking site for professionals with federal security clearance—recently reported that a memo written by Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines clarified the issue of cannabis use among the intelligence community.

Haines wrote, “The illegal use or misuse of controlled substances can raise security concerns about an individual’s reliability and trustworthiness to access classified information or to hold a sensitive position, as well as their ability or willingness to comply with laws, rules and regulations … guidance indicates that disregard of federal law pertaining to marijuana remains relevant, but not determinative, to adjudications of eligibility for access to classified information or eligibility to hold a sensitive position.”

Cannabis and COVID-19

A new study is once again linking cannabis with increased protection against COVID-19.

Published last week in the Journal of Nature Products, the study found that two compounds found in cannabis—cannabinoid precursors CBGA and CBDA—were identified as having the potential to block COVID-19 spike proteins from entering healthy cells. These acids become CBG and CBD after an activation process.

“Orally bioavailable and with a long history of safe human use, these cannabinoids, isolated or in hemp extracts, have the potential to prevent as well as treat infection by SARS-CoV-2,” wrote the study’s authors.