By George Wright
Former District 2 Councillor
We cannot become “The Cannabis Capitol of New Mexico.”
Former Councillor Fred Hashimoto rightly points out in his September 11 Corrales Comment opinion piece the dire consequences of unregulated and unrestricted proliferation of cannabis production.
Most municipalities that have typical residential “R” zoning are not threatened by cannabis production within residential lots. Without appropriate legislative restrictions, our unique zoning of A-1 and A-2 for combined residential and agricultural areas makes us vulnerable.
We as a Village needn’t passively accept a potential future of residential “potification” caused by passage of the N.M. Cannabis Regulation Act. We must do all we can to protect Corrales and Corraleños from encroachment of pot production into our residential neighborhoods. And it is up to the Village Council to protect us through legislation.
Evidently, because of untoward Village Attorney input and influence during legislative debate, and because of specious administrative guidance, the Village Council in August revoked the restrictive provisions of Ordinance 18-002 that protected residents from cannabis-related production. Without those restrictions, anything goes, anywhere within the village, and any area can be “potified.”
All residents are at risk of having a pot production facility adjacent to their living quarters. Former Councillor Pat Clauser and I co-sponsored and spent many months coordinating Ordinance 18-002 through four associated resolutions and multiple refinements to converge on and pass an acceptable solution to pot restrictions in A-1 and A-2 residential zones.
During our deliberations, we heard from many residents. They overwhelmingly supported these restrictions! Our Village Councillors must protect us by passing legislation to reinstate restrictions for areas zoned A-1 and A-2.
While the State statute implies that cannabis is a natural, agricultural plant, it doesn’t give carte blanche to unleash commercial facilities in residential areas. Per Village code, the Village must “…promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the residents of the Village by controlling the use of land so that it is developed in harmony with existing uses.” And the Cannabis Regulation Act provides that, “The local jurisdiction can limit density of licenses and operating times consistent with neighborhood uses.”
We can and should restrict pot production while at the same time preserving the State statute’s provision for growth of a few cannabis plants for personal use.
It is up to the six members of the Village Council to pass legislation that protects home owners and residents from the encroachment of pot production adjacent to their homes. We need at least four councillors, and preferably all six, to be stalwarts and find the courage and pragmatism to pass legislation that protects all Corraleños. Time is of the essence, and legislators need to act soon. If residents would like to contact councillors in this regard, here is an internet pointer to their email addresses: http://www.corrales-nm.org/villagecouncil/ page/governing-body.