Mary Jane, weed, pot, grass, dope, reefer, chronic, ghanga, bud; any way you put it, it all equals marijuanaor cannabis. Medical marijuana use is legal in the state of New Mexico, and recreational marijuana use is on its way to being legal within the state. The House and Senate have approved a bill that is awaiting the Governor’s signature, which she has indicated she willsign. From a business perspective, there is much to be gained with the legalization of cannabis. James Bajis, who co-owns Bud Board Smoke Shop with Alexis Armendariz has expansion in mind with the upcoming legalization. Bud Board Smoke Shop, located at 1101 W Lea St. opened its doors in September of 2020. The business began with wooden organization stations, and broadened its selections to include a plethora of accessories for the smoking enthusiast. Once the bill is signed into law, Bajis will begin the process of applying for a license to sell recreational marijuana. “Covid almost shut us down, but we persevered and were able to open the retail location. We’ve had a good reception after opening from the community,” Bajis said. “Several business opportunities exist beyond dispensaries with recreational marijuana legalization; coffee shops, bakeries, production labs, education centers,” commented Bajis. “With New Mexico getting in the recreational marijuana business now, we can be innovators in the industry,” he adds. Bajis also mentions that cannabis consumption could improve well being, and many ailments could be addressed with recreational use.On the opposite side is the Carlsbad Community Anti-drug/Gang Coalition and Executive Director Joana Wells shares concerns the Coalition has about recreational use. “For medical marijuna, we can see how it is beneficial to those with chronic conditions, the harm does not outweigh the risks, for example, someone who has multiple seizures a day without theuse of marijuana, goes down to only one seizure a day or less with the use of medical marijuna,” shared Wells. “The brain is still developing until the age of 25, and the frontal cortex develops last, which is where we process emotions, our mental health, and memory,” Wells said. Some concerns with recreational use being legal is that the accessibility for youth becomes larger and easier access to it can lead to higher consumption among the youth, which can impede brain development. There are also safetyconcerns for law enforcement officers.
“There is a lot of misconception and misinformation out there, people need to educate themselves on making the best decision,” Wells shares. Awareness, protecting the youth and their development is a priority for the Coalition. “We can’t change the law, but we can create awareness of how the harm outweighs the risk,” said Wells. The Coalition has a Facebook page, and on that page is a Parents in Action group you can join which has resources and training modules that can be done online. These resources can help parents understand how to recognize use and provide information on how to have those hard conversations with teens. You can also visit the www.carlsbadcoalition.comor call 575.256.0565 for more information about how the Coalition can help. With the legalization, adults age 21 and older could buy and possess up to 2 ounces of marijuana and adults could have 6 plants (12 for a household with 2 or more adults). Local government entities would not be able to opt out of commercial sales establishments, but could limit hours of operation and where they are located. There will be a 12% excise tax, increasing to 18% over time, and that is on top of the gross receipts tax that ranges from 5-9%. This could bring in an estimated $20 million in revenue for the 2023 fiscal year. A public health and safety advisory committee will be formed no later than September 1, 2021, one of their tasks will be to provide a report on the effects of cannabis legalization including; child access, road safety and driving while impaired, workplace safety, and the percentage of emergency room visits. Recreational marijuana use is on its way, and it is up to individuals that partake in it to do so in a safe and responsible manner.