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After a work-study session on how to make Corrales’ laws consistent with state law on marijuana growing, sale and use, the Village Council considered more modifications. The council’s vote on Ordinance 21-06 could not be included in this issue. The proposed amendment to the Corrales ordinance regarding cannabis growing and use reads as follows.

“Cannabis-related activities, approval and permit required.

For purpose of this section, all measurements for the purpose of determining the location of a cannabis retail establishment, cannabis consumption area, or cannabis courier in relation to schools or daycare centers shall be the shortest direct line measurement between the actual limits of the real property of the school or daycare center and the actual limits of the real property of the proposed cannabis establishment, cannabis consumption area, or cannabis courier.

(1) No person(s) or entity shall engage in the production, manufacture, or sale of cannabis or cannabis products in any zones without a current business registration and a valid cannabis permit issued by the Village of Corrales, permitting the specific cannabis-related activity or activities sought to be permitted on the premises. Cannabis permits are issued to the applicant(s) and are not assignable or transferable. Compliance with this section does not alleviate the applicant(s) from requiring approval from the Planning Administrator for all other applicable sections of 18-45.

(2) Application and fee. Anyone wishing to conduct cannabis-related activity must submit a completed application. The application shall be returned to the Administrator accompanied by the appropriate application fee for the use(s) to be permitted, and must show, at a minimum:

(a) the cannabis-related activity or activities are appropriately licensed by the State Regulation and Licensing Department pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation Act.

(b) the cannabis retailer, cannabis consumption area, or cannabis courier facility to be permitted may not be located within 300 feet of a school or daycare center in existence at the time a permit was sought.

(c) the cannabis retailer and cannabis consumption area seeking a permit may not be located within 200 feet of another cannabis retailer or cannabis consumption area in existence at the time a permit was sought.

(d) a site plan, including all greenhouse(s) proposed for the growth of cannabis and any accessory structure(s) located on the premises.

(e) valid proof of identity of the person(s) seeking the permit, indicating they are at least 21 years of age.

(f) proof of ownership or legal occupancy of the premises to be permitted, including an affidavit from the owner of the property that the applicant has permission to conduct cannabis-related activity on the premises if the property is not owned by the applicant.

(g) a valid New Mexico gross receipts tax number.

(h) the name, mailing address, email address, and contact phone numbers (including 24-hour emergency contact numbers) of the owner of the property for which the permit will be issued.

(i) The name, mailing address, email address, and contact phone numbers (including 24-hour emergency contact numbers) of the applicant, if different than the owner of the property.

(j) all other legal requirements as provided for according to the regulations set forth by the Regulation and Licensing Division pertaining to cannabis and cannabis related activity

(3) Compliance with 18-45(a) and 18-45(b) required. Any cannabis establishment seeking to construct or occupy a building or structure requiring a site development plan pursuant to 18-45(a)-(b) of the Village Code must provide documentation of Site Plan approval at the time of permit application.

(a) Greenhouses or other structures incidental to the production of cannabis or cannabis products shall be equipped with an activated carbon HVAC filtration system sized to effectively abate odor emissions.”

The full ordinance makes other changes to the Village’s Code of Ordinances Section 18-32 through 18-45, Section 24-23 and Section 24-26 “providing zoning and permitting regulations for the production and use of recreational cannabis pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation Act of 2021.”

Revisions also affect where smoking marijuana is permissible. Section 14-51, Smoking in Public Buildings, is amended to include “Cannabis. The smoking of cannabis or cannabis products is prohibited in all public areas, including those marked with ‘smoking allowed’ signage as indicated in Subsection 2 of this section.”

The new regulations are considered necessary because “the Village finds that high-yield crop raising, often referred to as ‘intensive agriculture,’ is a common practice with cannabis production, and has potential adverse impacts such as increased discharge of pollutants and light or odiferous nuisances on the village if not properly regulated.”

The August 10 work-study session with the Village Council and Planning and Zoning Commissioners was led by the Village Attorney Randy Autio and P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout.

“It primarily focused on ways to mitigate some of the known issues around cannabis-growing and retail security measures needed, odor abatement methods, exterior lighting and where smoking would be allowed,” Stout said.

“Most of those have been addressed in the earlier draft ordinance, but the Village Attorney was taking notes and the next council meeting may have changes. The main thrust is to get ordinances in place prior to when we have to start accepting applications, and if they need to be tweaked later, they can be.”

Village officials have been anticipating an onslaught of  requests to set up marijuana-growing operations here following legalization of cannabis use for recreation and businesses catering to that demand.

Ordinance 21-06 is the proposed municipal law to bring the Village of Corrales into compliance with the State of New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulation Act that took effect July 1.

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Commercial production of marijuana, or cannabis, has been under way in Corrales for more than five years for use in medical treatments, as permitted by the N.M. Legislature’s passage of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. State permits to grow and sell medical marijuana have been issued in increasing numbers as the number of patients being treated with prescription cannabis has soared.

As widely predicted, the N.M. Legislature moved ahead to legalize recreational marijuana in early 2021; the governor signed the Cannabis Regulation Act in April 2021. In a sense, Village officials have anticipated the changes now being implemented for more than five years. In 2017, the Village invited state regulators to explain what lay ahead. (See Corrales Comment Vol.XXXVI No.17 November 11, 2017 “Marijuana Farm Rules.”)

Back then, well before legalizing marijuana, the controversy was over  medical marijuana cultivation and sale and what kind of ordinance should be enacted to regulate it. Three officials from the N.M. Department of Health addressed a council-P&Z work-study session October 24, 2017. A month earlier the Village Council had passed a 90-day moratorium on new applications from medical cannabis growers. The resulting law did not intend to ban marijuana for medical use outright, but would indicate what areas of the community might be appropriate for that use. Most emphasis was setting industry “best practices” for growing and processing marijuana without creating nuisances or disturbances for residents.

At the work-study session, the Health Department’s (DOH) public information officer, Kenny Vigil clarified that the agency’s rules did not require any particular height for perimeter fences around cannabis sites, nor that the plants must be grown indoors. “We approved an outdoor grow earlier this year,” Vigil said in 2017. At that time, a total of 14,500 licensed marijuana plants were being grown around the state. The product was sold at 60 authorized dispensaries. Between 200 and 600 applications were received every day, he reported. New Mexico then had approximately 49,000 medical cannabis users, about half of whom were registered as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

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Pat Davis

Pat Davis is the owner and publisher at Ctrl+P Publishing.

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