The Albuquerque City Council made zoning restrictions and allowances for recreational-use cannabis official Thursday night after a six hour meeting to approve the city’s updated Integrated Development Ordinance.
For weeks, both those in the medical cannabis industry and those hoping to be a part of the recreational-use cannabis industry have raised their concerns about zoning proposals related to cannabis, namely those that came from Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller’s office. But the council rejected all but one proposal from Keller’s administration.
Most of the concern from the cannabis industry was that the city would effectively zone out new cannabis retailers, manufacturers and retailers.
Keller’s office originally proposed barring cannabis retail stores from areas that are considered to be a Main Street Corridor, or sections of the city designed to be walkable with local businesses. Examples of Main Street Corridors in Albuquerque are Nob Hill, downtown and the Barelas neighborhood, just south of downtown.
Keller’s proposal would have prohibited cannabis retail shops “abtutting” those areas, in addition to prohibiting them from being within 300 feet of areas zoned as residential. All but one councilor voted against the measure.
Capacity-based restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic will end in New Mexico on July 1, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced on Friday, which means all companies will be able to open at 100 percent capacity. “The simple fact is: We are beating this pandemic,” the governor said. The opening is the most dramatic rollback of COVID-19 restrictions since March of last year, when New Mexico declared a state of emergency. It comes as the state continues to increase the number of people who are vaccinated. The state has not yet reached its goal of 60 percent of those age 16 or older becoming fully vaccinated, but it is approaching, with the latest update on Friday showing 59.4 percent of those 16 or older with either both Moderna or Pfizer shots or the one shot Johnson & Johnson shot.
Dozens of New Mexicans issued warnings about the current and future impacts of climate change this week as they urged the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to adopt a new rule that would lead to significant methane emission reductions from the oil and gas sector. The comments happened as part of three days of public comment sessions as the EPA works on a new rule to address methane emissions from oil and gas. While the EPA hosted meetings to collect public comments, people can also submit comments online through June 30 at regulations.gov.
Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and emissions from oil and gas extraction have been linked to various health conditions ranging from asthma to cancer. Many of the commenters asked for a reduction in methane emissions by at least 65 percent from 2012 levels by 2025. Related: Biden’s first day: Trump’s methane rule and U.S. rejoins Paris Agreement
Albuquerque-resident David Robertson, who identified himself as a retired engineer and a member of the climate advocacy group New Mexico Interfaith Power and Light, said the target can be met with existing technology at an affordable price.
During the first twelve months of the COVID-19 pandemic, the academic school year was like no other. From March 2020 until April 2021, students in New Mexico public schools learned either remotely or through a hybrid model that included some in-person learning. Remote learning nationwide, on average, put more stress on women than men. According to a Marketplace-Edison Research Poll taken last fall of 1,647 individuals, 63 percent of the women polled said they were primarily responsible for helping kids with online school, compared to 29 percent of men. Several women told NM Political Report last year that they struggled with juggling their children’s online learning needs and the demands of their jobs.
While over two-thirds of New Mexicans age 16 or older have received at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot, the number who are fully vaccinated remains below the state’s 60 percent goal. As of Wednesday’s update, Department of Health Secretary Dr. Tracie Collins said 67.6 percent of all New Mexicans age 16 or older had received at least one shot, while 58.7 percent are fully vaccinated, with either both Pfizer or Moderna shots or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine. “We need 21,307 boosters or [Johnson & Johnson] shots to go before we hit 60 percent,” Collins said. There are currently 85,000 people who are eligible for the second shot, while anyone who hasn’t received a vaccination shot yet is eligible for the Johnson & Johnson shot. The state also has been contacting those who received COVID-19 vaccination shots in other states to confirm that they are fully vaccinated.
A group of researchers chose a mountain peak in New Mexico as a location where birders can help with breeding bird counts. The Mountain Bird Network selected Deception Peak, which can be accessed from the Ski Santa Fe area, in New Mexico as one of three locations to start the community science project. The data gathered will be used to inform studies looking into the impacts of climate change on birds. Ethan Linck, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of New Mexico, will lead the efforts in the state. “I always like science that can involve the public and demystify the scientific process,” he said.