Government pledges equity in emerging cannabis industry, Albuquerque Journal

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – One day after New Mexico officially became the 17th state to legalize recreational cannabis, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham praised industry representatives in the audience for their role in making legalization a reality and pledging to create an industry to participate that would involve New Mexicans from across the state.

“We will provide justice not only to New Mexicans who are participating in this economic opportunity, but also to entire rural communities that I know are represented here today,” said Lujan Grisham on the first day of the cannabis legalization conference in New Mexico.

The two-day event at the Albuquerque Convention Center was designed to bring together hundreds of cannabis industry professionals and potential entrepreneurs.

On Tuesday, cannabis became legal in New Mexico for adults over the age of 21 to grow and own cannabis.

The justice and social justice provisions related to the legalization of cannabis were major battlegrounds during the 2021 regular and special legislative sessions. The list of bills that were eventually signed by the governor includes provisions removing from state court records any arrests or convictions for conduct now legalized by law and the provision of a range of micro-business licenses to get smaller producers started in the new industry.

Lujan Grisham said the state approach is designed to include smaller communities outside the Interstate 25 corridor that are often excluded from statewide initiatives.

“And all of these other brilliant, bright, energetic New Mexicans, generations of families not just in the Ag world but in a number of areas, don’t have the same opportunities,” she said.

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Lujan Grisham was just one in a series of speakers during the legalization conference, which attracted hundreds of attendees and several dozen vendors selling products in the halls. On the first day, state officials, politicians and industry leaders held roundtable discussions and answered questions about the new industry, ranging from details on water rights to licensing requirements.

During an afternoon panel, Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas, Albuquerque, D-Albuquerque admitted that the industry is in a transition phase where cannabis is legal but cannot be bought for recreational use until state rules are finalized . But Maestas said he believes the process will ultimately produce better results than jumping into the fray right away. State law allows the state to allow retail sales to begin no later than April 1, 2022.

“Either we do everything overnight and it’s just all free, or we do it responsibly, methodically, and respect medical cannabis patients,” Maestas said.

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