Los Alamos County Takes Steps To Address Changes Due To Cannabis Regulation Act  

COUNTY News:

In response to the State of New Mexico enacting the Cannabis Regulation Act (NMSA 1978 §§ 26-2C-1 — 26-2C-42) (“the Act” or “CRA”) legalizing the production, manufacturing, sale, and adult-consumption of cannabis throughout the State of New Mexico, Los Alamos County is taking steps to address this statewide change.

The Act expressly defines and limits the amount of local control a municipality or county can impose on the adult-use cannabis industry through its power to regulate land use within their territorial limits.  

The Act allows municipalities and counties to adopt time, place, and manner rules and regulations that do not conflict with the Act or the Dee Johnson Clean Indoor Air Act, including rules that reasonably limit density of licenses and operating times consistent with neighborhood uses as well as establishing rules and regulations for the smoking, vaporizing and ingesting of cannabis products within an indoor or outdoor cannabis consumption area.  

However, the CRA prohibits a municipality or county from:  

  • completely prohibiting the operation of licensed adult-use cannabis operations within its boundaries;  
  • preventing the transportation of cannabis products on public roads when such transport is in compliance with the Act;  
  • prohibiting or limiting signage attached to or located on licensed premises that identifies the premises as a cannabis establishment;  
  • requiring a licensed premises or a cannabis consumption area to relocate more than 300 feet from a school or daycare center that was in existence at the time the cannabis establishment was licensed; and,  
  • requiring an existing licensee to relocate, or prohibit a person from producing homegrown cannabis as provided for in the Act.  

By Sept. 1, 2021, the Cannabis Control Division will start accepting applications for producers, microbusiness producers, and from medical cannabis businesses. By Jan. 1, 2022, the Division will accept applications for all other license types, including for cannabis education and training programs. Legal sales begin on a date set by the Division, which can be no later than April 1, 2022.  

Although the County’s Chapter 16 Development Code is undergoing an update process, the County is attempting to incorporate State Law changes into County Code in order to have local regulations firmly in place by Jan. 1, 2022.  

Using the State Law as a guideline, County staff will be submitting proposed changes to County Code that address non-individual cannabis cultivation and manufacturing and retail sales. If approved, the proposed text amendments would be implemented through the adoption of an ordinance.  

The proposed changes to County Code include definitions and local regulations within the Code for cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities and cannabis retail establishments. These proposed changes will include possible alternatives for decision-makers to consider regarding local regulations, such as establishing a minimum distance between cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities and cannabis retail establishments, or to allow cannabis retail establishments to be permitted to have on-site designated indoor cannabis vaping and outdoor cannabis vaping and smoking areas.  

The proposed changes include amending the Use Index Table by adding cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facilities and cannabis retail establishments as use categories and then identifying within which zoning districts of the county these uses are permitted (i.e. allowed), require special use permit, or are not permitted (i.e. not-allowed).  

The proposed changes will be considered through a Text Amendment Application, which will be heard by the Planning and Zoning Commission at its meeting scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 28, in Council Chambers at the Los Alamos County Municipal Building, 1000 Central Ave.

A copy of the complete Agenda is available at least 72-hours prior for public inspection 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at the Community Development Department in Suite 150 of the Municipal Building. The Planning & Zoning Commission shall consider forwarding the application on to County Council for consideration of approval and adoption of the ordinance.

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