While the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department is working towards finalizing rules and regulations for cannabis businesses, local governments around the state are also doing some fine-tuning of their respective zoning laws.
The state’s new Cannabis Regulation Act prohibits municipalities and counties from limiting things like the distance between a cannabis establishment and schools, but also allows those local governments some leeway in zoning ordinances. The City of Albuquerque for example was able to limit the density of cannabis establishments through its zoning plan.
Most of the types of establishments cities and counties are taking into consideration had predecessors under the state’s medical cannabis law. But other types of businesses, like cannabis consumption areas, are a new concept to local governments.
The Bernalillo County Zoning Commission, for example, recently approved a proposal that would ban outdoor cannabis consumption areas. The proposal still has to go through the Bernalillo County Board of Commissioners before it becomes official, but Erica Rowland has been front and center trying to educate officials on why indoor-only consumption lounges may not be a good idea. Rowland spoke against the proposal at the last zoning meeting and told Growing Forward, the collaborative podcast between NM Political Report and New Mexico PBS, that she aims to open a sort of cannabis country club.
“What I’m looking for is really to embrace the cannabis lifestyle that we have become so accustomed to as being patients,” Rowland said.
Rowland likened forcing cannabis consumption areas indoors to forcing users “back in the cannabis closet.”
The idea of cannabis consumption areas is not as new as many think.