The owner of Speak Easy NM, a CBD store in Doña Ana County, recently pleaded not guilty to felony charges of conducting unauthorized cannabis sales.
Speak Easy co-owner Jason Estrada has reportedly become the first New Mexican to be charged with selling marijuana illegally since the state legalized adult-use cannabis earlier this year. In July the shop was ordered to stop gifting cannabis to customers by the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department. No penalties were leveled at the shop’s owners, however.
According to reports Speak Easy employees were giving out free samples of marijuana to customers who made purchases in the shop. The shop’s owners told regulators and the media that they had been under the impression that what they were doing was legal and would stop the practice immediately.
But in August undercover agents with Doña Ana County Sheriff’s office entered the establishment and were reportedly able to purchase a joint of cannabis, a small container of THC wax and approximately 3.6 grams of cannabis flower.
According to NM Political Report, Estrada’s lawyer said that his client has complied with the state’s cease and desist order. Estrada is scheduled to appear for a preliminary hearing on Jan. 7, 2022.
Regulations Official Resigns
New Mexico RLD deputy superintendent John Blair abruptly announced he would be resigning from his position earlier this month.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that Blair’s resignation—announced less than a year after he accepted the job—was unexpected and sparked questions about whether he was forced to leave the position. Blair told reporters that he wasn’t pushed to leave and implied that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham had other plans for him. “I wasn’t asked to leave the department,” he said. “I think the governor was interested in having me do some other stuff within state government and … I had this other great opportunity outside of state government, and so I thought it would be a good time to move on.”
The state has reportedly already filled Blair’s position, announcing Victor Reyes—Grisham’s former legislative director—as the new RLD deputy superintendent. Reyes gave up his job as legislative director earlier this year to run for the 1st Congressional District but ultimately lost the race.
ABQ Revises Cannabis Laws
Albuquerque city councilors are working to change local laws that still criminalize cannabis use.
City Councilor Isaac Benton is sponsoring three bills that will bring the city’s policies into alignment with the state’s law. One bill would repeal the city’s Marijuana Possession Ordinance, which makes it illegal to possess cannabis in the city. Another would amend the Albuquerque Clean Indoor Air Act, making it illegal to smoke cannabis in the same places where tobacco smoke has been banned. Benton is also trying to remove references to cannabis paraphernalia from the city’s criminal code.