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December 7, 2018

Aztec City Commission Considers Code UPDATE to allow Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

By Jacque Ritchie, TALON

The Aztec City Commission will consider the "Intent to Adopt Ordinance 2018-487" allowing medical marijuana dispensaries within the city limits at the Tuesday, December 11 meeting. The proposed ordinance would regulate medical cannabis and medical marijuana dispensaries in C-1, C-2 and M-1 zoning areas. In accordance with sections 26-2B-1 through 26-2B-7 NMSA 1978, dispensaries may not be located within 300 feet of a school, church or child-care facility. Commissioners will vote on the measure and the public will have 45 days to comment before the ordinance comes again before the commission for a final vote.

"The winds of change are here," said Aztec Mayor Victor Snover. Pointing out that Farmington currently has two medical marijuana dispensaries Snover said, "Given the current economic climate, we need to be open to different types of revenue streams." Snover added that while no companies have yet expressed an interest in opening a medical marijuana dispensary in Aztec, "It may happen in a month or it may never happen...This is actually a proactive zoning change that will effectively 'set the table' for what may likely come...we don't want to play catch-up." Snover argues that the potential Gross Receipts Tax income generated by medical marijuana sales is a real factor when considering the passage of ordinance 487.

According to Wikipedia, in 1978 New Mexico became the first state to pass legislation that formally recognized the medical value of marijuana. In 2007, Governor Bill Richardson signed into law, bill 523 also known as the, 'Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act' becoming the 12th state to create a medical marijuana program. Currently, 32 states allow the sale and use of medical marijuana. Eight U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands currently legally allow recreational marijuana also known as adult-use cannabis. Snover believes that the incoming democratic state administration "sooner rather than later" will move forward with legislation legalizing adult-use cannabis in New Mexico. "We need to be prepared to have that conversation given the probable change in legislation in the future." A September 2018, Albuquerque Journal poll finds New Mexicans support legalizing adult-use recreational marijuana by a 2-1 margin.

Mayor Snover encourages citizens to voice their opinion on the issue at the upcoming meeting saying, "I always encourage citizens to participate in local government, that's what makes for a healthy political environment..I welcome the debate...on this issue, education is key to helping people make informed decisions..." Snover summed up by saying, "I'm very excited for the future of New Mexico and Aztec if this comes to pass."

Medical marijuana in Aztec?

Sherri Sipes has served on the Aztec City Commission for over ten years. Commissioner Sipes wanted to reserve comment on the proposed ordinance, in order to research the subject more thoroughly. Sipes told TALON she was interested in hearing community feedback on the issue saying, "I am always happy to have people participate in the local government process. I like to hear what peole think about all the issues that concern them."

Located at 106 S. Main in Aztec, the folks at, Compassionate Hearts, LLC assist people in securing, New Mexico Medical Marijuana Cards. "We knew this would be coming," said co-owner Kim D'Spain. D'Spain welcomes the passage of ordinance 2018-487 confident it would mean a boost for business, "It will be great for us, we will be thrilled."

Residents interested in voicing opinions and/or concerns are encouraged to attend the city commission meeting on December 11, at 6:00 pm at the city hall or contact your local city commissioner. For contact information go to aztecnm.gov.


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