Published October 7th, 2022 at 10:16 am
A law firm is questioning whether an Eagle Nest ordinance that bans cannabis dispensaries from opening in most areas of the village is compliant with state laws.
According to Taos News, the firm Ahr Law Offices sent a letter to the Eagle Nest council on behalf of Cris Brisbin and her company Helen Hutchins LLC claiming that the village’s cannabis zoning ordinance violates state law.
The ordinance bans all cannabis dispensaries outside of a single square block where an Ultra Health dispensary has opened. Due to local zoning laws that keep cannabis companies from operating too close to one another, it appears that Ultra Health will be able to do business in Eagle Nest without any competition.
The letter from Ahr claims that the ordinance “appears to be in violation of state law, specifically the Cannabis Regulation Act, which prohibits a municipality from enacting a regulatory scheme that prohibits the operation of a license issued pursuant to the act… [The act] does not permit a municipality to completely prohibit the operation of a licensee.”
No lawsuit has reportedly been filed.
Regulators Say Noncompliance Rampant
The New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department (RLD) says there are at least 31 cannabis companies that are not in compliance.
Since adult-use cannabis became officially legal, the department’s Cannabis Control Division (CCD) has reportedly conducted around 100 inspections. The division found that 31 licensees were not in compliance with state law. Officials have not released specific details on the violations. Only one cannabis licensees have been cited by the CCD.
“The Cannabis Control Division continues to provide guidance for this new industry to ensure compliance with the law,” said CCD Acting Director Andrew Vallejos. “We are bolstering inspections and testing to ensure that consumers have access to safe and effective products. Rigorous compliance is a hallmark of a well-regulated successful cannabis market.”
The division is reportedly looking to hire two to four more compliance officers. There are currently six compliance officers on the payroll.
Las Cruces Keeps Zoning Rules
After proposing to remove zoning rules that limit how close cannabis companies can operate to residential areas, the Las Cruces City Council has voted to keep the original limits in place.
Last week the council voted to keep the 300-foot buffer between cannabis businesses and residential zones. Senior City Planner Katherine Harrison-Rogers told Las Cruces Sun News that more than 1,000 commercial properties in Las Cruces are too close to residential zones for cannabis companies.
Harrison-Rogers says the city’s cannabis zoning laws unfairly limit cannabis companies in ways that are not applied to similar businesses like pharmacies and bars.
New Mexico cannabis laws allow towns, cities and counties to set distance requirements between cannabis establishments and schools as long as that distance does not exceed 300 feet. The state law does not require these limits, however.