Concerns over the Cannabis Regulation Act passed during a special session of the 2021 New Mexico Legislature, prompted Eddy County to act.
A public hearing and discussion of an ordinance regulating medical and recreational cannabis in the unincorporated areas of Eddy County is scheduled for the Eddy County Board of County Commissioners Oct. 5.
Following that, a second public hearing and discussion for a business licensing ordinance for cannabis retailers will take place.
What’s in the cannabis ordinance?
The New Mexico Legislature passed the Cannabis Regulation Act or House Bill 2 during a special session in March. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the legislation in April.
The bill allows New Mexicans to grow marijuana at home for personal use. An individual can have no more than six plants or up to 12 for a household if more than one adult lives there. Recreational cannabis will only be legal for sale to those 21 years and older. Purchases would be limited to 2 ounces of marijuana.
In the ordinance, Eddy County Commissioners stated the need to pass the ordinance to “promote the public health, safety and welfare to enact provisions regulating the used of cannabis in Eddy County.”
The ordinance stated cannabis cultivation, production and manufacturing creates strong odors and can involve the use of significant amounts of energy and water.
“And requires security and other measures to reduce the risk of theft or other diversion to the illegal cannabis market, including possession and use by persons under the age of 21,” read the proposal.
The Eddy County ordinance stated cannabis was an intoxicating drug and it would be appropriate to regulate the hours when cannabis products may be sold and the areas in which cannabis products may be consumed.
“The smoking of cannabis products may create health risks due to exposure to secondhand smoke and vaporized cannabis concentrates,” according to the ordinance.
Under the ordinance, cannabis establishments would be required to maintain a minimum separation of 300 feet from residence, churches, libraries along with public and government facilities.
“The 300 feet separation distance does not apply to a school or daycare center or to a residence on the same lot or parcel as the cannabis establishment,” read the ordinance.
The ordinance would also require cannabis retailers and consumption areas to be limited to the hours of 7 a.m. until 2 a.m. Monday through Saturday and 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Sundays.
“This ordinance would serve to regulate the cannabis industry within Eddy County as allowed under the State of New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act,” wrote Eddy County Community Services Director Steve McCrosskey in a memorandum to commissioners.
Commissioners approved the public hearing Sept. 7 after Eddy County’s Planning and Development Advisory Committee approved drafts of a cannabis licensing ordinance and a business licensing ordinance Aug. 25, according to McCrosskey.
What is the business licensing ordinance?
In a separate memo to commissioners, McCrosskey said the ordinance regulating business licenses would create a registry for all business operating outside of Carlsbad, Artesia, Loving and Hope.
“This ordinance would work in conjunction with the Eddy County RV and Work Force Camp ordinance, and the proposed Cannabis Regulation ordinance,” he wrote in the memo.
The ordinance requires anyone engaging in business after Oct. 5, 2021 in the unincorporated areas of Eddy County to obtain a business license.
“For new business owners after transfers of an existing business and for persons commencing a business after January 1 of any year, the business license form is due 30 days after the date of transfer or the date such person commences business in the County,” read the ordinance.
“The application forms are available from the Eddy County Community Services Department.”
Cannabis business operators in Eddy County would pay $250 for the initial permit and $100 for annual renewal of the permit, per Eddy County records.
Other New Mexico entities act on regulation
Matt Kennicott of the P2M Cannabis Group said municipalities and counties across New Mexico had passed recreational cannabis ordinances.
San Juan County, City of Roswell, San Miguel County, Roosevelt County, Santa Fe County, City of Clovis, City of Portales, Sandoval County, Santa Fe County and Village of Corrales passed measures right after Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 2, Kennicott said.
Most ordinances are similar to Eddy County’s proposed ordinance as cannabis establishments must be 300 feet from residences and public and government facilities.
“The City of Carlsbad is in the process of developing a cannabis ordinance. A draft is currently under review,” said Kyle Marksteiner, City of Carlsbad spokesperson.
The proposed Eddy County ordinances are the first items on the commission’s Oct. 5 agenda. Meeting time is 8:30 a.m. in room 211 of the Eddy County Administration Center at 101 West Greene Street in Carlsbad.
Mike Smith can be reached at 575-628-5546 or by email at [email protected] or @ArgusMichae on Twitter.