December 1, 2020

Growing Forward: Holiday Leftovers

This week marks the final episode of Growing Forward’s first season. This week, we talk about some of the things we didn’t get to in subsequent episodes. 

One of those issues is banking. Over the years, as states began legalizing both medical and recreational-use cannabis, there have been numerous reports of cannabis companies struggling with where to put their money. Nationally accredited banks have historically been hesitant to openly take money from sales of a federally illegal substance. 

We talked to Patty Lindley, the director of compliance and quality at U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union about how that organization is working with medical cannabis companies to make banking safe and legitimate. Lindley said U.S. Eagle has a seperate program for medical cannabis banking that she hopes will appease federal regulators. 

“I do expect there to be some extra scrutiny on the program, so we’re prepared for that,” Lindley said. “We have all of our ducks in a row and we don’t expect to see any problems with that, but I do think they’re going to be watching this program pretty closely.”

We also spoke with economist Kelly O’Donnell, who has conducted numerous studies on cannabis in New Mexico, including how the state might benefit from recreational-use cannabis tax revenue.    

O’Donnell said besides tax revenue from New Mexico residents, the state could see a significant increase in tourism revenue. 

“I think that part of the appeal of cannabis taxes for states is that although certainly state residents will be consuming a large portion of the product that’s marketed, it’s also a significant tourism draw,” O’Donnell said. 

But many proponents of full legalization also say it could provide more than a financial benefit. 

Emily Kaltenbach with the Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico said besides realizing more money for the state, legalization should also include restorative and social justice. 

First off, Kaltenbach said, lawmakers should seriously consider potential cannabis entrepreneurs who may not have adequate capital or previous drug convictions that might hinder them from getting into a legitimate cannabis market.  

“Who can get equity and who can’t is a really important question,” Kaltenbach said. 

Another issue of concern for the Drug Policy Alliance is reversing the impacts cannabis convictions have had on the state’s residents in general. Kaltenbach said the Drug Policy Alliance is again pushing for automatic expungements for some drug convictions. 

“We want to go back and right some of those harms,” Kaltenbach said. 

In this week’s episode we also discuss young medical cannabis patients and how current laws and policies impact them. We also talk about how state lawmakers can address driving while impaired. 

You can find this week’s episode, as well as all previous episodes, below. You can search for Growing Forward wherever you listen to podcasts. 

Growing Forward is a collaboration between NM Political Report and New Mexico PBS, thanks to a grant from the New Mexico Local News Fund.