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County mulls recreational marijuana rules

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Lisa Dunlap Photo The county's draft regulations concerning recreational marijuana are scheduled to be heard at public meetings Aug. 17 and Aug. 19. The Chaves County Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday morning to advertise for the Aug. 19 public hearing for the additions to the Planning and Zoning ordinance. From left are County Commissioner Dara Dana, County Manager Bill Williams and County Commission Chairman Will Cavin. They are speaking after the meeting with county IT Director Alfredo Garcia.

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Chaves County is prepared to consider recreational marijuana regulations governing how producers and distributors can operate outside the city of Roswell limits after its commissioners set a date for a public hearing on draft regulations.

The county has received some inquiries in recent months, said Planning and Zoning Director Louis Jaramillo, but so far has not received any permit or variance applications concerning recreational marijuana sites.

Still, according to County Manager Bill Williams, the county must adopt regulations as part of its Planning and Zoning ordinance and its Extraterritorial Zoning (ETZ) ordinance by Sept. 1 if it wants the ability to determine in what areas recreational cannabis-related businesses can operate.

The first of September is when the state will begin to process cannabis producer licenses. Other licenses related to the recreational marijuana industry should be issued starting by the beginning of 2022.

The draft of the new regulations is expected to be released to the public in next few days, following a special meeting Wednesday of the Chaves County Board of Commissioners.

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At that morning meeting, four commissioners voted to advertise about a public hearing on the proposed regulations. The hearing will occur Aug. 19 at 9 a.m. at the Chaves County Administrative Center, 1 St. Mary’s Place. The public can make comments in writing, at the hearing or by participating in a Facebook Livestream of the meeting.

The Roswell-Chaves County Extraterritorial Zoning Commission also will consider adding regulations to the ETZ ordinance during its Aug. 17 meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Administrative Center.

People can comment there as well, but the regulations cannot be adopted by the commission, which consists of appointed members. Changes to the ETZ ordinance must be voted on at some future meeting by the ETZ Authority, which consists of elected officials from the Chaves County Board of Commissioners and the Roswell City Council.

The county and the city of Roswell, which is scheduled to have its public hearing on cannabis regulations on Aug. 12, are working to put their rules in place after the Cannabis Regulation Act was passed by the New Mexico Legislature in March and signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in April. The act legalizes recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 or older.

While some use and possession of non-medical marijuana by individuals was allowed starting June 29, commercial sales are not expected to begin until April 2022. New Mexico legalized medical cannabis sales and use in 2007.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.