Changes made Monday to a draft ordinance amending municipal recreational cannabis regulations would ban all on-site consumption areas and Sunday sales if approved at next month’s Roswell City Council meeting.
Recreational marijuana sales became legal in New Mexico on April 1. The city has yet to approve the applications for sale, but the Planning and Zoning Commission was expected to consider giving its recommendation to the first of seven applicants on Tuesday. These requests will then be submitted to the full City Council for consideration for approval.
A spokesperson for New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division confirmed Tuesday that Roswell is the only city in the state where there are cannabis retail candidates, but sales have not yet start.
The proposed order is intended to streamline the process of transitioning existing medical marijuana facilities into recreational retail once they have obtained the appropriate state license.
Three city councilors voted against the amended ordinance at the end of a nearly three-hour special meeting of city council on Monday that followed a special 45-minute meeting of the council’s legal committee.
The proposed ordinance was placed on council’s agenda on April 14 at the request of Mayor Tim Jennings. After much discussion at that meeting, however, the board voted to send it to the legal committee for review.
Both meetings were convened on Monday to discuss scheduling a public hearing for the proposed order. Under state law, the city must announce a public hearing two weeks before the hearing. With council’s approval to advertise the hearing, it can be scheduled for the May 12 council meeting.
At Monday’s two meetings, councilors offered amendments and even an amendment to an amendment, deleting parts of the ordinance and reinstating others that had already been deleted, sometimes leading to confusion among councilors and Jennings as to to the voted action.
Councilmen Juan Oropesa and Edward Heldenbrand, who feared the ordinance would violate state law if passed, and Councilman Jason Perry, who said he voted against it because he thought the city would waive some, voted against the amended final order. of its regulatory power.
Perry introduced the motion to remove all references to on-site consumption areas from the city’s cannabis code, which would prohibit businesses such as a consumption lounge from locating within city limits.
Oropesa asked Community Development Director Kevin Maevers if this would violate the state’s cannabis regulation law.
“I don’t think we can stop anyone from opening a business. Of course, this is new territory we find ourselves in and I would hate to start off on the wrong foot by violating a state regulation,” Oropesa said, adding that it would cost an awful lot of money to defend the order. before the tribunal.
City Attorney Parker Patterson said he couldn’t guarantee a trial wouldn’t occur, but his interpretation of state law is that a municipality can choose whether or not to allow the consumption areas on site.
“What it’s saying is that a local jurisdiction can allow smoking, vaporizing, and ingesting cannabis products in an indoor or outdoor cannabis consumption area,” he said. .
“If we can do it, obviously we don’t have to, so we can’t do it, and that’s the argument,” he said.
Perry’s amendment to ban cannabis consumption zones was approved 9-1, with Oropesa voting against.
Perry’s main area of concern was a section of the ordinance allowing existing medical marijuana facilities to begin recreational sales once they have obtained the appropriate state licenses without obtaining any zoning or licensing changes. city conditional use permit.
Perry proposed an amendment to change the wording so that medical marijuana businesses would have to go through the full licensing process the same way a new business would.
He asked Maevers how much regulatory authority the city would lose by allowing medical marijuana companies to circumvent zoning and conditional use permit processes.
“By waiving the requirement for a conditional use permit, by waiving the requirement to rezone, we are significantly limiting ourselves to establishing security protocols,” Maevers said.
Adding retail cannabis sales is a significant change in the operation of a medical marijuana facility, Maevers said, and the sales would also increase the intensity of the operation. A conditional use permit would allow the city to assess whether retail sales are appropriate for the existing location, he said.
Several existing medical marijuana facilities are considered non-compliant with zoning regulations due to their proximity to residential areas or, in one case, a daycare center, Maevers said. The city did not implement such regulations when medical marijuana became legal in New Mexico in 2007.
A vote on the amendment to require medical marijuana facilities to obtain a change of zone and a conditional use license initially resulted in a 5-5 tie, Councilors Savino Sanchez, Angela Moore, Jeanine Corn -Best, Barry Foster and Perry voting in favor, and Cristina Arnold, Oropesa, Heldenbrand, Juliana Halvorson and Robert Corn voting against. Jennings rejected the amendment with his no to break the tie.
Perry made another motion to change the hours of operation allowed in the ordinance. The original order did not specify the hours, leaving that determination within the scope of a conditional use license. However, the revised version of the ordinance on Monday introduced fixed hours for citywide retail sales of 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Perry’s amendment changed the hours to 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday with no permitted hours on Sunday. This amendment was approved 9-1 with Oropesa voting against.
Other successful changes to the ordinance were the removal of the requirement for the city to notify all cannabis businesses by mail when a change in fee structure is to be considered; reinstating two subsections regarding building repairs, alterations, additions and expansions by a non-compliant cannabis business; and deletion of a section containing definitions.