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SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico’s cannabis industry is booming, according to sales data. Since recreational sales began in 2022, retailers have sold hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth. But does the industry need more oversight?
That’s one question legislators are considering. And House Bill 233 proposes a way to enforce cannabis rules.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Marian Matthews (D-Abq.), would reorganize the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department, also known as NMRLD. That department contains the Cannabis Control Division, which oversees New Mexico’s cannabis industry. The bill also proposes letting the department hire compliance officers with police powers to enforce cannabis-related rules.
The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee debated the bill Monday, February 13. Right away, the committee considered changing the bill to remove the idea of using compliance officers.
“It was a little more complicated than we initially thought to get [compliance officers] built in,” NMRLD Superintendent Linda Trujillo explained to the committee. “And the cost of it was not contemplated.” So, the bill sponsors asked for an amendment to remove the idea of having law enforcement compliance officers.
Rep. Martin R. Zamora (R-Clovis, Santa Rosa, & Fort Sumner) expressed concern over the potential impact of not having law enforcement officers. “Is it gonna limit our power or our ability to control the cannabis industry?” he asked. “We need feet on the ground. We need to enforce our rules,” he suggested.
But Trujillo from NMRLD explained that the state is already operating without cannabis police. “Currently, the Cannabis Control Division works collaboratively with the Department of Public Safety,” she explained. The original intent of having law enforcement officers at the Regulation and Licensing Department was to have in-house enforcement. But even without that, there currently is oversight, and there will continue to be oversight, she explained.
Linda Trujillo says the Regulation and Licensing Department will continue to consider the best way to enforce cannabis rules. So, the idea of having cannabis inspectors with police powers may not be completely off the table for future legislation.
But for now, the committee decided to move the bill forward without the law enforcement component. The legislation could still improve the department by re-focusing their IT department, Trujillo says.