Cannabis shop clears hurdle to open in Mesilla historic district

MESILLA – A cannabis dispensary might soon join the mix with restaurants, jewelry shops, souvenir shops and others near Mesilla’s historic plaza.

Monday saw the unanimous approval of the town’s first cannabis business application by its Planning and Zoning Commission. The Board of Trustees must confirm it, but there didn’t appear to be any issues that would prevent passage.

Marshall McGinley, a local business owner and cattleman, was granted a municipal licence to operate NM Cannabis Cowboy (a retail cannabis shop) in a small retail space on Calle de San Albino. It is located two blocks from the plaza.

McGinley had obtained the necessary license from New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division. He also approved his plans for security features, cameras, and other equipment at the site. McGinley submitted all of these documents to the commissioners, along with his articles and a letter from his property owner endorsing the application.

After McGinley’s confirmation that he had met all the requirements of both the state’s Cannabis Regulation Act (the “Regulation Act”) and the The Authorities, they acted quickly. The cannabis ordinance in the townThis was in effect from January.

The process was confusing, however, as cannabis dispensaries do not require one approval. Instead, they require two: One to operate a business within the town, and another to operate a cannabis business.

Mayor Nora Barraza was present at the meeting and explained that the dual approvals were intended to replicate the process for establishments that serve alcohol.

The process was not as smooth for the second cannabis dispensary, whose application was delayed due to further confusion over the town’s ordinance. There is also the possibility that the proposed location may be too close by McGinley’s shop.

Bader Jouda, El Paso, applied to operate a dispensary called Cannabis Tropical on Calle de Parian near the plaza. Commissioner Davie Salas participated in the meeting via telephone and declined to approve the application. Jouda is still pursuing a state cannabis retail license.

“We probably shouldn’t be addressing this, really,” Salas remarked.

Although the ordinance doesn’t specify whether the certificate must be filed before the town approves a license, the commissioners ruled that a state license should be in effect first.

Jouda had provided proof of his submission for a license, but the ordinance contains slightly ambiguous language. StatementA town cannabis business license applicant must show documentation “proof of submittal for a valid state of New Mexico cannabis license,”And it continues: “After licensure is obtained, a copy of the certificate from the state of New Mexico must be submitted as part of the file.”

Marshall McGinley, owner of the proposed NM Cannabis Cowboy dispensary, is seen during the Town of Mesilla's Planning and Zoning Commission meeting on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022.

Salas pointed to a second problem in Cannabis Tropical’s application. Its current proposed location might not be close enough to McGinley’s dispensary. This has now been approved.

The ordinance states that cannabis establishments must be at least 300 feet apart from each other. This distance is the maximum allowed by the municipalities. You are allowed to require this under state law.

The town states that the measurement shall not exceed “from any wall of the two proposed or existing licensed premises,”This appears to fall within 300 feet, as the crow flies. Jouda’s proposed address is located down one block from McGinley’s.

The commissioners swiftly came to an agreement that the entire case — including a permit application for an 18- by 24-foot “coming soon” sign to be posted at the business — should be postponed for a future meeting with a request that Jouda appear in person.

The commissioners unanimously approved the simultaneous business license and sign permit applications. However, they did not address a fourth agenda point: Jouda had also requested an address-specific business license to allow her to sell snacks and non-cannabis products at the same address.

Both dispensaries do not offer a cannabis consumption area, so it is prohibited to consume cannabis on the premises.

After approval of planning and zoning, McGinley’s dispensary application will be presented to the board at a later meeting.

It is still illegal to possess and consume cannabis under federal law. However, New Mexico has legalized cannabis for adults for both medical and nonmedical use. April 1 was the first day of state-regulated commercial sale.

Algernon D’Ammassa can reached at 575-541-55451 [email protected] or @AlgernonWrites on Twitter.

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