New Mexico Considers Changes to Limit Recreational Cannabis Tourism


Regulators in New Mexico held a public hearing this week to discuss rules for the state’s forthcoming recreational cannabis market. 

The state’s Regulation and Licensing Department, as well as its Cannabis Control Division, fielded questions and comments from the public during last Thursday’s hearing over the rules that will govern cannabis retailers and manufacturers.

According to the local website NM Political Report, the comments at the hearing “varied from proposed regulations for packaging requirements, general business practices to cannabis deliveries to both businesses and residences.”

The meeting was highlighted by the appearance of Katy Duhigg, a Democratic state Senator who also serves as a cannabis attorney in Albuquerque. Duhigg “brought up a series of issues she said she would like to see changed and offered specific suggestions,” according to the website. It was reported that she “took issue with a proposed requirement that cannabis manufactures prove they have access to water rights because manufacturing doesn’t necessarily use water the same way cultivation does.”

“Requiring all manufacturers to prove water rights for their application, I think, is unreasonably burdensome, because it’s just not going to be a factor for a number of them,” Duhigg said, as quoted by NM Political Report

Lawmakers in New Mexico passed a bill legalizing recreational pot use for adults during a special legislative session in the spring. The legislation was signed into law in April by Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. This means big things for New Mexico, as for the first time ever, they will finally have a legal cannabis industry. 

Legislators had failed to pass a legalization bill during the regular 60-day session, prompting Grisham to call a special session to get the proposal over the finish line.

“The unique circumstances of the session, with public health safeguards in place, in my view, prevented the measures on my call from crossing the finish line,” Grisham said at the time. “While I applaud the Legislature and staff for their incredible perseverance and productivity during the 60-day in the face of these challenges, we must and we will forge ahead and finish the job on these initiatives together for the good of the people and future of our great state.”

Grisham’s office specifically cited the legalization bill as a reason for the special session.

“With general, across-the-aisle agreement on the importance of the legalization initiative, the governor intends to see through final passage of this potentially significant economic driver, which is estimated to create over 11,000 jobs and ensure New Mexico is not left behind as more and more states adopt adult-use cannabis legalization,” the governor’s office said at the time.

The extra time proved effective, as New Mexico legislators soon passed the Cannabis Regulation Act, which legalized recreational cannabis use for adults aged 21 and older. 

The new law officially went into effect on June 29, allowing such adults to have up to two ounces of pot outside their home (and even more inside their home).

Under the Cannabis Regulation Act, regulated marijuana sales must begin by April 1, 2022.

At the public hearing last Thursday, participants like Duhigg addressed some of the stipulations in the bill, including one requiring cannabis producers to “show that they have legal access to water after many members of the public raised concerns about New Mexico’s scarce water supply,” according to NM Political Report.

The website said that Duhigg with a “provision that would limit cannabis retail businesses from giving away free products to anyone but medical cannabis patients,” as well as one that “would limit cannabis deliveries to residential addresses.”

The latter, she said, will “reduce cannabis tourism in New Mexico.”



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