New Mexico Regulators Revoke Licenses for Two Cannabis Farms
In a news release on Tuesday, the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department said that Bliss Farm and Native American Agricultural Development Company (NAADC), two cannabis farms located within miles of each other in Torrance County, New Mexico, had been ordered to “immediately stop all commercial cannabis activity” and “pay large fines.”
The two farms were cited for “exceeding plant count limits, not utilizing the state’s mandatory track and trace system and unsafe conditions, among other violations,” which resulted in the revocation of their licenses.
Additionally, Bliss Farm and NAADC must “each pay $1 million in fines for their illegal activity,” the Cannabis Control Division said. The fines will “be remitted to the State Treasurer and are to be deposited by law in the Current School Fund,” according to Tuesday’s news release.
“The illicit activity conducted at both of these farms undermines the good work that many cannabis businesses are doing across the state,” Clay Bailey, the Acting Superintendent of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, said in a statement. “The excessive amount of illegal cannabis plants and other serious violations demonstrates a blatant disregard for public health and safety, and for the law.”
Todd Stevens, the director of the Cannabis Control Division, said that he hopes the sanctions serve as a warning to other would-be violators.
“Compliance within the industry is the CCD’s main priority and our office is committed to ensuring New Mexicans have access to safe cannabis products,” Stevens said. “The team worked diligently on both of these cases to determine the appropriate action for violations at a scale we hadn’t seen before. The outcomes were justified under the law based on the egregious conduct of these individuals and I hope this serves as a reminder to those who might be violating the laws and rules the state has put forth.”
Last year, local news station KOAT conducted an undercover investigation that revealed “how some cannabis dispensaries were not following the rules and were selling marijuana coming from outside New Mexico.”
The state’s cannabis law requires all cannabis programs to be grown and regulated in New Mexico.
Acting Cannabis Control Director Andrew Vallejos told KOAT last year that the state needed “to devote some more resources to enforcement.”
This week’s announcement suggests that might be happening.
The Cannabis Control Division uncovered the violations at Bliss Farm and NAADC during inspections carried out by compliance officers.
At Bliss Farm, those officers “discovered multiple alarming violations including numbers of cannabis plants far exceeding the allowable limits under the Cannabis Regulation Act, not utilizing the state’s mandatory track and trace system, unpermitted structures, unsanitary conditions of the production facility, pests, and more,” according to Tuesday’s news release.
“In total, Bliss Farm was cited for 17 violations. The farm’s large number of cannabis plants on site and evidence of a recent harvest without records entered into the track and trace system led the division to conclude the plants were transferred or sold illicitly,” the agency said.
The Cannabis Control Division said that it “filed a Notice of Contemplated Action against Bliss Farm on August 14, 2023,” and that the business “requested a hearing on the matter which was set for October 19, 2023.”
“At the hearing, the farm’s attorney stated that all violations had been remedied. However, upon returning to the facility, compliance officers did not see any evidence that the violations were fixed. The hearing officer agreed to revocation and the imposition of fines which were set by the CCD after determining the appropriate amount,” the Cannabis Control Division said.
Native American Agricultural Development Company (NAADC), meanwhile “was cited for eight violations, including exceeding the allowable number of cannabis plants under the Cannabis Regulation Act, improper security measures, no chain of custody procedures, and ill-maintained grounds with trash and pests throughout,” according to the news release.
And much like at Bliss Farm, the Cannabis Control Division’s compliance officers “also saw evidence of a recent harvest at NAADC, but no plants had ever been entered into the mandatory track and trace system,” the release said.
“The CCD filed a Notice of Contemplated Action against NAADC on October 12, 2023. The hearing on the matter was conducted on November 22, 2023,” the news release continued. “At that time, representatives from NAADC and the CCD were given the opportunity to present their cases. The hearing officer agreed with the state’s recommendation to revoke NAADC’s license and impose a fine.”
New Mexico legalized recreational cannabis for adults in 2021, when Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Cannabis Regulation Act into law. Legal adult-use sales began in 2022, topping $300 million in the first year of sales.
In Tuesday’s news release, the Cannabis Control Division said that it has “revoked six licenses to date and has levied more than $2.3 million in fines related to illegal activity.”
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