William and Collete Hunter outside their Los Alamos home hoping to start their business, the Atomic City Cannabis Company. Photo by Maire O’Neill / losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
As the Los Alamos District Council prepares to vote Tuesday evening on an ordinance amending Chapter 16 of the District Law to add local cannabis retail regulations and amend “home-based” regulations, the Los Alamos reporter has many questions on the proposed regulation received. specifically how the state’s Cannabis Regulation Act, the Clean Air Act work, and what retail cannabis will look like in Los Alamos County.
Since the issue of cannabis retailing was discussed in the county council and planning and zoning sessions, Collete and William Hunter have spoken openly and on record of their desire to start the Atomic City Cannabis Company and run a small and separate shop Part of . to open their home in Los Alamos for a “cannabis micro-company”. The community had the opportunity to hear in depth from the hunters in open meetings as well as in several letters to local media.
The hunters have said they don’t want to grow more than 30 plants at a time, and later, when they want to expand, they own land outside the county where they can license an “Integrated Cannabis Micro-Shop” (ICM).
The Los Alamos reporter sat down with the Hunters to learn more about how the micro-business would work. Collete said they would keep their ICM at their place of residence. The land would be used to grow the plants and the resulting flower product can be “cured” off the land or transported to the ICM in accordance with the provisions of the Cannabis Regulation Act (CRA).
Collete Hunter said the CRA allows a micro-business to produce up to 200 mature cannabis plants at a time in a single licensed location. The manufacture of cannabis products is permitted in a single licensed operation. Sale and transportation are only permitted for cannabis products that have been manufactured or manufactured by the ICM licensee. The licensee may only operate one retail store and the licensee may cure cannabis products to qualified patients, primary caregivers, or mutual participants, or directly to consumers.
“Manufacturing under our micro-business would initially include our production by growing dried consumption flowers, also known as ‘buds,’ although dried consumption flowers are the end product of the cultivation process, as well as the products that could be made from the flower, such as rolled Cannabis cigarettes (joints) or edibles to name a few, ”said Collete. “Our flower products will be ‘handcrafted’ and not machine grown. Our manufacturing process would take place if some of the dried, consumable flowers were processed in an increasingly smaller sieving process in order to produce what is known as kief. “
Kief is the smallest part of the flower that contains the actual THC. THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that causes the high feeling. Her kief would then be compressed into 2-gram “pucks” with a hand press and sold that way, Collete said.
“Our dried flower and kief puck product can be consumed in a number of ways – smoking, vaping, making edibles (with food-safe oil / butter with cannabis / THC), tinctures, food-safe oil infusions, ointments, lotions, etc., whole according to the preferences of each consumer, ”she said. “None of our manufacturing processes would involve anything explosive, dangerous or harmful, and we plan to keep it that way!”
As the hunters slowly expand their business, they want to add edibles, oil infusions, etc. to their product selection.
“To start we have to start somewhere, so we plan to start with two types of products – consumable flowers and kief pucks. We will also have consumer accessories such as pipes, vaporizers and rolling papers for sale, ”she said.
The reporter asked the hunters if anyone could grow and sell cannabis from their home without permits and licenses, and they said it would be considered an illegal activity and would be prosecuted. To obtain a license for their ICM under the Cannabis Regulation Act, they are currently going through a rigorous state license application process that includes criminal background review, proof of ownership, a water and energy usage plan, and proof of adequate water rights (an electric bill works for their case).
For the state license application, they must include a site map showing exactly what is happening where on the property, including cultivation, manufacturing (what would happen in their vault), security camera surveillance, retail space, etc. The state needs to know how much of the total square footage their building is intended for living quarters and how much for business.
William Hunter said the state also wants to see the county deny her application for a home business license. He said the county rejected the application because the hunters lacked a state license.
William Hunter said the state is also requiring certification of point list items that must be completed prior to the micro-business opening, including obtaining permits to renovate their current retail and vaulted premises, as well as installing a security surveillance system.
“We are planning to build a retail and vault where William currently has his cosmetics store at home, which we plan to close on March 31, 2022. We plan to open the cannabis business on July 1, 2022, when we can get the licenses, ”said Collet.
She said they had already filed an application with the State Cannabis Control Division for a preliminary license to operate a home-based ICM.
“A temporary license gives us time to get any missing documents like the county business license and proof of zoning permit. We cannot start or open or operate the micro business with the provisional license. We can’t get the state license until we get the home based business license from Los Alamos County, and the county won’t give us the license until we have a state license, ”said Collete Hunter. “So here we are!”
When asked how neighbors can be reassured that the business is safe, and what about those who do not want to live next to a “drug dealer’s house” or have similar concerns, William said, contrary to what some believe, cannabis is not a “drug” like Cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy etc but like alcohol is medicinal and relaxing.
“Cannabis is useful in the treatment of a wide variety of conditions, including chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. Many people consume it in their leisure time because it contributes to smooth social interactions. People love to decompress after a tough day and cannabis can help, ”he said.
Regarding safety concerns, Hunter said their cannabis plants are grown using a drip irrigation system with no pesticides, fungicides, or herbicides.
“Healthy cannabis plants are efficient in their use of water and resistant to pests / diseases. All of our cannabis products must be tested, and if the tests show contamination we cannot sell them. We have to destroy the product and report it to the state, ”he said.
The Cannabis Regulation Act sets the rules for business and product safety.
“For example, we need to have a 24/7 motion-activated security camera business surveillance system that notifies us and the police in the event of a security incident such as a break-in. A police report must be sent to the Cannabis Control Division within 48 hours, ”Hunter said.
Cannabis plants in the growing area may not be visible or accessible to public spaces, Hunter noted that almost every aspect of the business is monitored by the state. He said none of her neighbors raised concerns, but some offered assistance. There are several do-it-yourselfers in the neighborhood.
“As we all know, Los Alamos is a pretty safe city. We do not want to and do not want to change anything with our business activities. After all, we live here too, ”he says.
When asked why not simply selling medical-grade cannabis as a private company, Hunter stated that the concept of the micro-integrated cannabis business originated in the CRA. When the CRA was passed, it transferred control of the existing state medical cannabis program from the Department of Health to the Cannabis Control Division of the State Regulation and Licensing Department. Now all cannabis dispensaries are required to hold 10-25 percent of their total product inventory for medical cannabis patients, and medical cannabis patients do not have to pay taxes on the sale of cannabis products. Hunter said the requirements for selling cannabis for recreational purposes to a consumer are presentation of proper photo identification, proof of age 21, payment of the product, and completion of chain of custody documentation.
The Los Alamos Reporter asked the Hunters about a recent “satirical” column in another Councilor David Izraelevitz publication that has been interpreted by some to mean that retailing cannabis may not be a financially viable business start-up.
“To be honest, I’m not sure what position Councilor Izraelevitz came from. This is a new industry and the state was hoping to encourage small business creation through the drafting of the Cannabis Regulation Act, some of which are home based, ”replied Collete Hunter. “Remember, all cannabis sales in New Mexico were illegal until medical cannabis was legalized here in 2007. Before that, sales were carried out everywhere – including from home, with anyone who had the money on the ‘black market’. ”
The hunters concluded by telling the reporter that they don’t need capital to start their business and that if they did they would have access to it.
“We own our house freely and clearly and can only accommodate about 30 plants in our growing area, but that will be enough for the beginning. Our business model will be easy for us to implement once we receive our state and local business licenses. We will have low operating costs, low production costs, and low distribution costs, ”said Collete Hunter. “There are more than 550 medical cannabis patients and an unknown number of recreational cannabis users to sell to, so the income side of the business should be fine too! We are almost perfectly positioned to make this business successful right from the start. “