You have questions about cannabis. Let’s find answers


April marked three years since cannabis was legalized in New Mexico. We have waited over 50 years to see the sacred medicinal herb be legalized and made available without fear of legal repercussions.

Legalization is still a controversial subject nationwide. In this monthly column, we will explore many facets of this industry. We will also address the value of the New Mexico medical cannabis program and why we must do all we can to ensure it survives. Recreational use and medical use are different.

The state Cannabis Control  Division regulates cannabis. CCD had a rough start in 2021: There have been four directors since 2021, and most were not prepared. The good news is that the new CCD director, Todd Stevens, comes from Colorado with a background in cannabis.

One problem was evident right from the get-go. The CCD was not prepared for the onslaught of license applicants. Another issue that continues to affect the industry is the lack of compliance officers and law enforcement to address illegal activities that have gone unchecked for over two years.

The damage has been done. Many illicit operators gained advantage since the rules did not include law enforcement. Some of you want to know how that happened. The rules and regulations also did not include limiting licenses to support New Mexico residents first.

When the rest of the country got wind of the ease of obtaining licenses in New Mexico, they came and overwhelmed the system. Our state has a small and economically challenged population. We are not California or Colorado. Las Cruces only has 115,000 residents.

There are those who continue to exploit the cannabis industry. Estancia had two commercial production facilities which were found to have employed 1,000 Chinese immigrants who lived in the greenhouses illegally. Jobs at these facilities went to exploited Chinese immigrants, not New Mexicans.

The facilities in Estancia were out of compliance and were shut down by CCD a few months ago, but they continue to operate, partly due to the fact that they are on sovereign  land and state and federal laws have limited access. The issue is still unresolved.

There are immigrants and residents from other states moving here to work in the cannabis industry, thinking they will make millions. I personally have met folks from Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Oklahoma and Arizona who are making Las Cruces their homes.

One purpose of this column is to include you, the residents of Las Cruces, in this journey. You have questions and together we can find answers: How does legalization affect me as a resident of Las Cruces? How can 115,000 residents support 60 dispensaries? Why is the Border Patrol suddenly confiscating legal cannabis at the border checkpoints? Can licenses be limited in oversaturated cities? Who will listen to and address my concerns?

This is an opportunity to speak up and have your voice heard. Please email me at

Hilda Luz Chavez holds a doctorate in natural medicine and founded a cannabis dispensary in Las Cruces.

cannabis, Hilda Luz Chavez