Alibi V.29 No.3 • Jan 16-22, 2020 

Baked Goods

EXPO New Mexico Backs Down

Settlement details released

Baked Goods logo (with correct glasses!)

Well, dear reader, I suppose my memory isn't what it used to be. I'd forgotten all about the legal battle between EXPO New Mexico and Ultra Health over what cannabis products are allowed to be displayed at the State Fair. The parties involved sure hadn't. Last week, details were made public about a settlement that was reached last summer in the 2017 lawsuit.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the details were recently posted on a public database by the General Services Department as per state law. According to records, EXPO New Mexico officials agreed to drop a pending appeal to the 10th US Circuit of Appeals and pay $69,600 to Ultra Health LLC.

The case goes way back to the State Fair in 2016. Ultra Health rented a booth to hand out literature on medical cannabis and health—the usual sort of thing you expect to see at one of these booths. Along for the ride was “Dorothy,” a 3-week-old cannabis plant that staff put on display.

But not long after the booth was set up, EXPO officials charged in and said the plant and any literature depicting cannabis had to go. According to the company's account of the incident, officials initially said it was okay to keep the booth up for the rest of the day, but state police showed up a few hours later and forced them to remove the plant and brochures. According to the company's CEO, Duke Rodriguez, State Fair officials had been notified ahead of time that the items—including the plant—would be at the booth.

In 2017, the State Fair barred the company from displaying any cannabis paraphernalia, and the company sued. In January 2019, US District Judge James Parker ruled that EXPO New Mexico had infringed on Ultra Health's free speech rights and ordered fair officials to allow the company to display implements used to grow and process medical cannabis as well as images of the plant. The State Fair was also ordered to pay the company's legal fees.

EXPO New Mexico spokesperson Oona Garcia told reporters that the judge's ruling helped set guidelines for what dispensaries and producers can display at the fair.

Prisoner Access to Cannabis

A state senator and lawyer is asking a judge to allow medical cannabis patients under house arrests to have access to their meds.

According to NM Political Report, Sen. Jacob Candelaria filed a writ of mandamus in state district court, requesting that Bernalillo County allow patients in custody to use medical cannabis. The writ was filed on behalf of his client, repeat DWI offender Joe Montaño, who is currently under house arrest. Montaño made headlines in 2017 when he was arrested for his seventh DWI charge after running from police. But Candelaria said his client's criminal history is “entirely irrelevant” and has nothing to do with his right to have access to “adequate, reasonable medical care.” What is important—according to Candelaria—is that Montaño is enrolled in the state's Medical Cannabis Program.

The issue came up after the man had been placed under house arrest and a Bernalillo County Community Custody Program officer found cannabis and a pipe in his home. He was reportedly sent to the county’s Metro Detention Center for about a month.

“At the end of the day,” Candelaria told reporters, “Mr. Montaño has a constitutional and statutory right to something very fundamental and simple, which is to access medicine.”

Ultra Health is reportedly helping pay Montaño’s legal bills.

THC Field Test Enters Market

Knowing the difference between “hemp” and “marijuana” has been a major problem for law enforcement officials ever since hemp was removed from the list of controlled substances with the signing of the 2018 Farm Bill. The issue: They're the same plant. The only way to tell the difference is to test them for THC. “Hemp” is defined as cannabis with less than 0.03 percent THC.

But according to WINK News in Florida, close to 52 agencies across the state have signed up to receive field testing kits for cannabis distributed by Syndicate Chemistry. The kits are reportedly manufactured in Switzerland.

The company's COO and founder John Waldheim told reporters that the kits indicate if a sample goes over the legal limit of THC. The test isn't perfect, however. “You take the kit and use it if it’s a positive result, then I would say it’s recommended that they take their product to the lab to have a final quantification of the THC levels verified,” Waldheim said.

Report: CO Market Level

Last month, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City published a report analyzing the first 5 years of Colorado's retail cannabis market. It found that while the industry is continuing to profit, it has slowed considerably, marking its movement into a “more mature stage of development.”

Jobs and profits are beginning to level off. The biggest hurdle for the industry seems to be that pesky old legality issue. The report cites problems with black market competition and limited access to banking among the forces impeding the industry's growth.

“Though there still is room for growth, demonstrated by a spike in recreational marijuana sales during the summer months of 2019, the industry is unlikely to see rapid expansion in employment and business formation comparable to the growth during the first few years after legalization.”

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