The march of progress continues. The first recreational marijuana consumption lounge in New Mexico managed to open in Las Cruces, close to the border with El Paso, Texas. This is pretty big news and a huge step forward in the process of legal consumption for of-age adults in the US, even though municipal authorities are unfamiliar with the concept of cannabis consumption areas. At this point, we’re pretty sure that stoners across the nation will take whatever they can get.
Consumption Areas Are Now A Thing
The New Mexico Legislature amended the state’s medical cannabis law, including the addition of consumption areas. Originally intended only for medical marijuana users, the 2019 legislation mandated that the consumption zones be connected to an established medical cannabis dispensary.
State laws mainly limit using marijuana to at-home use. Consumption areas not only provide a safe space to use cannabis for those who are not allowed to do so due to their living arrangements, but they also serve as a place to learn and connect communally.
With the advent of Sol Cannabis being the first and only cannabis consumption lounge in New Mexico, how are things looking for more consumption lounges popping up?
Zoning Laws And Their Effects On Consumption
To answer the question at the end of the last paragraph, we have to look at how New Mexico approaches zoning and the sale and use of cannabis. Though New Mexico’s adult-use marijuana law permits cannabis consumption areas; how many municipal governments will accept the idea is unknown.
While the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department work to finalize cannabis business rules and procedures, local authorities across the state are also fine-tuning their various different zoning laws.
The state’s new Cannabis Regulation Act prohibits municipalities and counties from restricting things like the distance between a cannabis establishment and a school. Still, it also gives those local authorities some wiggle room in zoning regulations. Through its zoning plan, the City of Albuquerque, for example, restricted the concentration of cannabis establishments.
In general, the state’s smoking law adds another layer of legislation to consumption areas. Rep. Deborah Armstrong stated that she’d like to see less smoking overall.
Still, she is also well-versed in how medicinal marijuana can help relieve symptoms of severe medical conditions. Armstrong’s daughter has been battling cancer for years and became a motivating factor behind the legalization of medical cannabis.
What The Future Holds
The opening of the first consumption lounge in New Mexico heralds a new era for cannabis as a big business, impacting law enforcement, depleted water resources, economic opportunity, and cannabis tourism along the state’s border with Texas.
Adults 21 and up will be able to purchase up to 2 ounces of marijuana at retail outlets across the state beginning at midnight on April 1.
The legalization laws in New Mexico seek to undo some of the damage done overwhelmingly to minority communities and low-income households.
With easy access to licensing, state-subsidized loans, and even product-certification logos that direct customers toward cannabis from minority-owned enterprises, the state hopes to assist those communities in gaining a position in the market.
A Final Thought
It would appear that the opening of Sol Cannabis to the of-age recreational cannabis consumer market has had some pretty serious effects on New Mexico legislation. And so far, they all seem reasonably positive. There is still a way to go for some US states when it comes to the legalization of weed. Here’s hoping they can take a few pages out of New Mexico’s playbook.
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