Alibi V.27 No.34 • Aug 23-29, 2018 

News on the Green

Save the Date for New Mexico Cannabis Expo!

Join Weekly Alibi at our inaugural New Mexico Cannabis Expo from 11am to 5pm on Saturday, March 23, 2019, at Santa Fe Community Convention Center. The mission statement of the expo is working together to build a local “cannatopia,” creating the ideal future for medical cannabis and hemp industry in New Mexico. Explore medical cannabis and adjacent industry vendors, workshops, flower sampling and much more. Early-bird booth pricing will be available through Sept. 30. Call 505-346-0060 ext. 248 or email advertising@alibi.com to learn more or get involved.

The Long Arm of the Health Department

With legalization comes regulation. And with regulation comes oversight, and that ultimately has to lead to penalties and enforcement. It was bound to happen: The New Mexico Department of Health found itself in the position to revoke a producer or dispensary’s license. It’s the most pronounced intervention in the decade-plus-long history of the “compassionate use” in New Mexico, and the disciplinary action involves a Las Cruces-based business.

Based on state health secretary Lynn Gallagher’s ruling, Mother Earth Herbs was ordered to surrender its license by March 31, 2019. The nonprofit company behind the dispensaries, owned by Vivian Moore, opened a location in Albuquerque this year while facing these allegations of falsified audits that were conducted during 2014 and 2015. Moore’s accountant testified that his signatures on the suspected audits were forged. As a further consequence of the Health Department's decision, Moore has been banned from participating as a medical cannabis professional in New Mexico, an outcome that she protested was severe compared with her alleged misconduct. According to state law, Moore and company can challenge this ruling in district court.

Cannabis Industry’s Political Muscle

The cannabis industry’s growing influence in New Mexico can be witnessed in myriad ways, from the job growth it has unlocked in the state to how much money is being made thanks to the compassionate use act. Duke Rodriguez, a former New Mexico Secretary of Health who is now head of UltraHealth, an Albuquerque-based cannabis company, told the Las Cruces Sun last week that the industry topped $100 million in revenue in 2017.

That economic heft translates to political power. The southern state newspaper of record notes that oil and gas concerns contribute more to political campaigns than most other organizations and entities combined—$1.4 million so far during 2018—but also sees the writing on the wall: The cannabis industry is making itself heard in the state through economic success and because the folks behind the scenes of the cannabis industry openly contribute to their home state politics. This year over $49,000 has been donated by local cannabis firms to various elections featuring candidates statewide. That’s practically double the amount handed out during the entire 2016 election cycle and serves as a key indicator of the matched path that cannabis and profitability are walking in the Land of Enchantment’s economic and cultural narrative.

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