January 21, 2022

Gov. Lujan Grisham gives OK for legislature to make some cannabis law changes

In addition to high-profile efforts to improve public safety and education, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has called on lawmakers to address cannabis during the 30-day legislative session. 

Lujan Grisham issued a message on Thursday afternoon, authorizing lawmakers to add changes to the Cannabis Regulation Act to the legislative agenda. 

The governor’s message pertains to SB 100, which is sponsored by state Sen. Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque. The bill, if passed, would increase production limits for cannabis microbusinesses, allow state regulators to require education requirements for cannabis servers, allow liquor license holders to also obtain a cannabis business license and allow some cannabis businesses to employ workers who are under 21, but over 18 years of age, as well as other changes to the law. 

The state’s Cannabis Control Division announced earlier this week that it planned to work with the governor and lawmakers to increase plant limits for cannabis microbusinesses as a way to combat expected shortages in April when sales are expected to begin. The division also announced an emergency rule change for non-microbusinesses, but production limits for smaller operations are written into statute. SB 100 proposes to increase plant limits for microbusinesses from 200 to 1,000 mature plants.

The bill would also allow cannabis businesses that previously only sold medical cannabis to employ workers who are 18 years of age. Under the state’s medical cannabis law, producers were allowed to hire employees who are 18, but the Cannabis Control Act states that cannabis employees must be 21 years of age or older. 

Other proposed changes to the law include coordination between the Cannabis Control Division and law enforcement agencies to better track possible criminal histories of cannabis operators that might disqualify them from working in the industry. The bill also proposes allowing those with a liquor license to also obtain a cannabis business license, although it would still prohibit both types of licenses at the same establishment. 

New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ben Lewinger told NM Political Report that “The chamber supports the fixes the bill is trying to make to the Cannabis Regulation Act.”

New Mexico legalized recreational-use cannabis last June and the state began issuing production, manufacturing and retail licenses late last year. The law currently requires non-medical sales to begin no later than April 1.

Once the governor’s message is read into the record on the Senate floor, which will likely be Monday when the Senate is scheduled to reconvene, SB 100 will be considered germane and can be heard by committees.