Santa Fe County Planning Commission is advancing the proposed cannabis regulation

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Jul 16 – The Santa Fe County Planning Commission made a small change to a proposed cannabis ordinance Thursday evening before voting 6-1 to send it to county commissioners for review.

Planning Commissioner Rhea Serna gave the only vote against the regulation after a public hearing that resulted in little comment.

New Mexico counties, cities, and towns are working to enact rules for recreational cannabis businesses before the state begins processing applications for producers by September 1.

New Mexico legislature and Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham passed the Cannabis Regulation Act earlier this year, which legalized recreational use of cannabis for adults ages 21 and up, production for personal use, and created a commercial market for legal production and sale .

Counties and municipalities cannot ban production and sales, but they can limit the density of cannabis businesses and determine where such businesses can set up. Recreational cannabis sales begin April 1st.

The district’s proposal for a regulation was primarily drawn up by growth management and the legal departments.

Under its provisions:

* There must be at least 100 meters between a cannabis shop and a school or daycare center.

* There must be a distance of at least 60 m between cannabis companies.

* Cannabis producers who grow crops outdoors will be treated like dairy farms, generally allowed in agricultural and ranching zones and rural areas.

* Cannabis products may be served and consumed in “consumption areas”. These areas are treated like bars and night clubs.

* Smoking cannabis is only allowed in licensed locations which are stand-alone buildings with no smoke escaping to infiltrate other locations.

* Areas of cannabis use are restricted to those aged 21 and over.

The only significant point changed by the Planning Commission on Thursday was a provision allowing residents to grow cannabis for personal use both outdoors and indoors.

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The original proposal would limit personal production to interior decoration. Operation outdoors is regulated by nuisance ordinances that prohibit the emission of bad smells.

District commissioners feared the original proposal was too restrictive for personal cannabis use, and the planning commission agreed. Commission chairman Charlie Gonzales said he had received numerous calls from people who believed that growing cannabis for personal use should not be limited to indoor operations.

He said he was surprised that there was no public comment at the meeting, which was held in person at the County Administrative Complex at 102 Grant Ave. The planning commission also allowed the public to participate remotely, but no one took advantage of this option.

Serna said after the meeting she wanted a more thorough analysis of the problem, such as how cities and counties are handling the matter in other states with legalized growth and sales of recreational cannabis.

“I did not feel that the regulation was fully specified,” she said. “I just wasn’t feeling well.”

The district commission will review the proposed ordinance on July 30th.

The county is much further advanced than the city of Santa Fe in approving regulations for cannabis companies. City officials said Wednesday they don’t expect rules to go into effect until October 1, a full month after the state is due to begin issuing licenses.