New Mexico State Regulators Hear From The Public On Proposed Mail, Manufacturing And Retail Rules For Cannabis
The New Mexico Department of Regulation and Licensing and its Cannabis Control Division heard from the public Thursday in a public regulatory hearing regarding cannabis couriers, retail establishments and manufacturing facilities.
Comments during the meeting ranged from regulatory proposals for packaging requirements, from general business practices to deliveries of cannabis to businesses and residences. Katy Duhigg, an Albuquerque-based cannabis lawyer, raised a series of issues she would like to see changed and offered specific suggestions. Duhigg is also a New Mexico state senator, but said she does not speak in her capacity as a lawmaker.
Duhigg took issue with the proposed requirement that cannabis manufacturers must prove that they have access to water rights, because manufacturing does not necessarily use water in the same way as growing.
âTo require all manufacturers to prove water rights for their application, I think, is unreasonably onerous, because that just won’t be a factor for a number of them,â Duhigg said.
During the special legislative session surrounding the Cannabis Regulation Act, lawmakers added a provision that cannabis growers, who are often referred to as producers, must show they have legal access to water. after many members of the public expressed concerns about New Mexico’s scarcity of water supply.
Duhigg also said she was concerned about a provision that would prevent cannabis retailers from giving free products to anyone except medical cannabis patients.
âI think companies should be allowed to make the business decision to offer free products if they want to,â said Duhigg. “It should be tracked and accounted for, but I don’t think there is a compelling government interest in restricting who companies can give their products away for free.”
Duhigg also suggested that the ministry reconsider a proposed rule that would limit deliveries of cannabis to residential addresses. She said this would place an “unreasonable burden” on couriers to decide what qualifies as a residence.
“It will reduce cannabis tourism to New Mexico, and there is no compelling government interest in doing so,” Duhigg said. âCompanies can set their own policies around cannabis. This is an unreasonable restriction.
Tony Martinez of cannabis company Lava Leaf Organics raised concerns over a proposed rule that would require cannabis delivery vehicles to be fitted with an additional box or cage in addition to the standard vehicle locks. . Martinez said that drivers who currently deliver medical cannabis to retail outlets depend on their speed and imperceptibility for security and that securing and unsecuring locks will lengthen delivery time and place drivers in a vulnerable place.
âI would like people to recognize how dangerous it can be to manipulate a second set of locks that are inside the trunk, the back of the vehicle, etc.,â Martinez said. “What appears to create additional security really just creates additional risk.”
In addition to the public comments made during the hearing, a handful of people submitted their comments online.
Kristina Caffrey, lawyer for prominent New Mexico medical cannabis producer Ultra Health, submitted comments on behalf of the company.
Among Ultra Health’s list of concerns was one of the requirements for what is known in the industry as closed loop extractions. A common process for making cannabis extracts is to use a volatile solvent like butane to remove elements from the cannabis plant material. A closed loop extraction process includes a separate, sealed chamber where solvents can be removed from the cannabis concentrate.
Caffrey wrote that a requirement that manufacturers use a “commercially manufactured” closed-loop system is ambiguous.
“It’s not clear enough what ‘commercially made’ means,” Caffrey wrote. âDoes a manufacturer have to purchase a fully assembled system from a commercial supplier? Or can the licensee buy parts and assemble them himself? Can the licensee buy a used system? And which supplier qualifies as a commercial manufacturer? “
Maggie’s Farm, a Colorado cannabis company, suggested a number of changes, including one to allow circulation in dispensaries. There is currently at least one medical cannabis dispensary in New Mexico with drive-thru, but New Mexico years ago cut in-car liquor stores in an effort to combat drinking and driving. .
One person who submitted their comments online said RLD should change the proposed requirements to allow concentrates to have more than 30 percent THC by weight.
Melinda Pineda, policy officer for the state’s social services division, submitted a comment online suggesting that commercial cannabis licenses be revoked if the owner violates a child support order.
“It is the position of the Child Support Enforcement Division of the Department of Social Services that the Cannabis Regulation Act does not conflict with the Parental Responsibility Act, and it is intended that the Department of Regulation and Licensing will deny or suspend cannabis establishment licenses and producer licenses for individuals. who do not comply with child support orders and / or procedures, âPineda wrote.
A common feeling at the start of the hearing was that the department could have done a better job with technology that allows virtual public comment.
The hearing was held virtually out of caution for COVID-19, but for about the first hour of the meeting, all but two of the people struggled to go through the meeting’s application.
While Wendy Robbins, producer of the The marijuana show, provided she had substantive comments on the proposed rules and regulations, by the time she was able to pass, she also had some pointed comments on RLD using WebEx instead of the now popular Zoom for Audience.
âI’d like it to be recorded as you go from WebEx, which was popular in the ’70s or’ 80s, to Zoom, where even my grandmother could ride,â Robbins said.
Gama Mendez, who operates a delivery app, raised concerns over proposed requirements for locking cannabis in a delivery vehicle, but first raised concerns about the difficult start of the meeting.
âIt’s pretty sad that we’re all invested in this,â Mendez said. “I’m really disappointed that you’ve had so much time, and we can’t get an ‘unmute’ button.”
Another commentator, Miguel De Santigo, said he needed to be reminded of the topic of the meeting as there was such a delay in registering people.
âI can’t remember exactly what we’re supposed to be commenting on publicly because of everything we’ve been trying to figure out,â De Santiago said.
But after the technical difficulties, the comments focused more on the proposed rules themselves.
RLD and the Cannabis Control Division may make changes based on the comments submitted, but are not obligated to do so.
Assuming the changes that RLD and the Cannabis Control Division decide to make are consistent with the original purpose of the proposed rules, the department will not need to hold an additional hearing before enacting them.
Once the rules are finalized and RLD Superintendent Linda Trujillo approves them, they will come into effect and the state can begin accepting licenses for manufacturers, couriers and outlets.