The governor's Cannabis Legalization Working Group was out in full force again, making headlines with their unforeseen, outlandish, paradigm-shattering ideas of what the state's cannabis policy should look like. Their newest shocking revelation: They don't recommend state-run recreational marijuana shops.
Of course it's only a little revelation since most of us hated the idea of state-run pot shops in the first place. Another small revelation was the recommendation that the state leave zoning restrictions and regulations to local government, but deny them the ability to opt out of cannabis sales entirely. They said allowing local governments to opt out of sales would cause headaches for law enforcement.
The working group is almost finished with their investigation. It plans to hold its final meeting before the end of the month, but I'm starting to get the sneaking suspicion that this is all nothing more than a public relations stunt to give voters the sense that democracy and science are hard at work backstage somewhere. Maybe I'm just cynical, but I still remember how our governor seemed much more leery about recreational legalization before it became apparent that the issue would have a major role to play in the 2018 gubernatorial election.
And it should be noted that a small comment was reportedly made by City Councilor Pat Davis, head of the working group, indicating that it would recommend allowing medical cannabis companies already operating in the state to produce and sell recreational marijuana as well.
Taos News reported that more than $29,000 was donated to Lujan Grisham's 2018 campaign by medical cannabis producers, and the governor has notably said on numerous occasions that she'd only support legalization if it didn't interfere with the medical industry. Something tells me that our wait for legalized cannabis has little to do with health and safety concerns.
Nevertheless, Lujan Grisham has promised to make marijuana legalization a priority during the 30-day legislative session in 2020, so it won't be long before we see what all this was really about.
The strange battle to open up the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program to out-of-state patients has reached a milestone.
In late August, Judge Bryan Biedscheid ruled that a wording change made to the cannabis program expansion law allowed non-residents of New Mexico to be admitted to the state's medical marijuana program. The Department of Health, the Governor's Office and legislators all disagreed with the ruling, claiming lawmakers never intended to remove the residency requirement. The Governor's Office said it would appeal the decision. “If the petitioners want to access medical cannabis, they should be suing their own state and dealing with legislation in their own state—not continuing to file lawsuit after lawsuit against the state of New Mexico,” said Matthew Garcia, general counsel for the Governor’s Office.
But in the meantime, Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez made history by being the first Arizona resident to receive a valid New Mexico medical cannabis card. According to Phoenix New Times, he said he spends about half of his time in New Mexico, and having access to cannabis while he's here will have a positive impact on his health.
Last month the Drug Enforcement Agency filed a notice in the Federal Register acknowledging a number of applications to produce marijuana for scientific study. They were compelled by a lawsuit, filed in June by the Scottsdale Research Institute (SRI), that accused the agency of ignoring a federal statute that requires it to respond to applications within 90 days. The DEA had failed to respond to any applications since 2016.
Along with the notice, the agency said it would have to propose new regulations before it could begin approving applications. It claimed the lawsuit should be thrown out because they had responded and were in the process of approving applications.
Well the SRI is calling foul. It filed with the US Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit last week, urging the court to go forward with the lawsuit and issue an order requiring the DEA to make decisions on applications within a specified time frame. The institute claims the agency filed its notice just to get the courts off its back while it continues to delay approvals.
According to US Hemp Roundtable, US Reps. Chellie Pingree, of Maine, and James Comer, of Kentucky, are asking fellow lawmakers to turn the screws on the Food and Drug Administration and get them to stop going after CBD companies.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter, the representatives asked for support in convincing acting FDA Commissioner Ned Sharpless “to adopt a risk-based policy of enforcement discretion that targets bad actors while eliminating uncertainty for responsible industry stakeholders and consumers.”
It is currently illegal to sell CBD-infused supplements and food products or transport them across state lines. This hasn't stopped a number of companies from selling the products anyway (as you might have noticed). While the FDA has yet to make a concerted effort to prosecute these companies, the representatives still want to see an official policy change.
The letter also argues that the FDA's timetable for regulating CBD—three to five years, according to the representatives—is “untenable,” and points out that the industrial hemp market is poised to begin production. “It’s critical that FDA act quickly to provide legal and regulatory clarity to support this new economic opportunity,” wrote Pingree and Comer.