The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By Kathleen Stinson
Staff writer 

Officials work on marijuana ordinance


Last updated 7/3/2021 at 2:03pm

CLOVIS — Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Monday signed into law legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis in New Mexico.

At the local level, the city of Clovis and its Planning & Zoning Commission met Wednesday in a study session to begin fashioning a city ordinance outlining days and hours of operation, zoning and density of dispensaries around the city and other issues.

City Attorney Jared Morris said the state bill is about one and a half pages, meaning much of the regulation is left to local jurisdictions.

Morris said he is trying to get the city's ordinance adopted before Sept. 1, when the state will start accepting applications from retailers and producers.

He suggested commissioners will probably agree on “such low hanging fruit” as whether to prohibit for-sale signs off site and the possession and use of cannabis on public property. The city also has the power to require dispensaries to have a business license.

The commissioners discussed whether to allow the sale of cannabis seven days a week.

Commissioner Helen Casaus said she favored allowing the sale seven days a week. Otherwise, people will just “go out of town to buy it on Sunday.”

She also said she didn't think the city should exclude the dispensaries from the central business district.

Planning Commissioner Steve North said “the less restrictive the better.”

City Commissioner Juan Garza said he was “OK with seven days a week.”

“The times are changing … best to minimize the effects,” Garza said.

The city ordinance could be challenged and the city might have to defend a civil litigation lawsuit if the language is contested, the commissioners briefly discussed.

Mayor Pro Tem Chris Bryant said the dispensaries don't belong in the Central Business District.

The city attorney said the commission has to have a “rationale” for restricting dispensaries other than that they “don't like” them.

Commissioner Megan Palla said she is “not sold on” having dispensaries in the Central Business District but would like to hear “why not.”

The commissioners discussed how far away from schools, parks with playgrounds, churches and daycares dispensaries should be located, and floated the concept that the dispensaries should be at least 1,000 feet from each other.

During the public comment period:

• Christian Flores, who said he worked at a downtown smoke shop, asked if those locations would have any type of grandfather clause. City Manager Justin Howalt said the shops would not be impacted if they continued to operate as they do now, but would be subject to city ordinances if they chose to transition into a dispensary.

• Audie Martin said the state should expect an influx of business to the dispensaries when they open, because they'll get the Texas and New Mexico residents who currently drive to Colorado to buy cannabis.

Casaus said if the city makes the ordinance too restrictive, the dispensaries will just move to the county.

Portales Mayor Ron Jackson said, in a later interview, that the city hasn't had any group meetings as yet to discuss how this “may play out.”


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