ISSUE 04-09-22 NO STAMPEDE HERE ON FIRST DAY OF LEGAL MARIJUANA SALES

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Whether or not you indulge in recreational drinking or pot smoking, you need to be aware that some of your friends and neighbors do. And they drive along Corrales’ roads. Even before sale of recreational cannabis became legal April 1, drivers  here were behaving more erratically, perhaps due to COVID frustration and fatigue. Or maybe it’s just the recent horrific increase in traffic in the business district and especially around the post office.

In any event, the need for defensive driving may be greater now than at any time since Corrales’ horse-and-buggy days. The N.M. Department of Transportation launched a new, cannabis-focused campaign April 1 to discourage marijuana users from getting behind the wheel when they could be substantially impaired. Billboards went up with the warning “You’re Too Drive to High. Endwi+.”

“Impairment is impairment,” Transportation Secretary Mike Sandoval said, “it doesn’t matter whether it’s alcohol or cannabis. Driving while intoxicated on any substance is dangerous and illegal.

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“If  you are impaired and driving erratically or unsafely, you could be arrested for DWI. The law is the same.”

For weeks now, police officers have undergone  training to recognize signs of driving impairment unrelated to alcohol use.

As in other parts of New Mexico which legalized recreational marijuana use, Corrales’ sole retail outlet, the SWOP (Southwest Organic Products) store at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road, saw a dramatic uptick in business April 1.

“We did about four times our regular level of sales on the first day of legalized recreational marijuana,” SWOP Regional Manager Dranna Insausti  told Corrales Comment April 2. “We had 139 customers yesterday.”

She said she didn’t know how many of those first-day customers were Corraleños.

She anticipates about the same level of sales through April —aside from April 20 which  is celebrated as “4/20 Day,” an unofficial holiday also known globally as “Weed Day.”

Insausti said she expects a celebration of some sort at the SWOP site that day.

“SWOP has really grown a lot over the past two years,” she added. “We now have seven stores around New Mexico, including three in Albuquerque and, of course, this one in Corrales.”

The SWOP website homepage features a full-screen photo of the store here. It is found at http://www.swopnm.com.

The store has sold medical use marijuana here for more than a year. Products include prescription cannabis as well as recreational smokes, edibles, tinctures and topicals.

Since April 1, store hours are Monday through Saturday 10 a.m.  to 8 p.m. and Sundays 10-5.

Insausti said she is aware that customer parking may become a problem, and that already, SWOP patrons have been parking in spaces for Perea’s Restaurant. She said arrangements have been made for SWOP staffers to free up parking space by leaving their own cars across Corrales Road west of the Village Print Shop.

Sales of medical cannabis have been legal since 2007,  but recreational use remained outlawed until 2021. New Mexico became the 17th state to legalize recreational use.

State officials are anticipating recreational marijuana sales  to top $300 million this year. On the first day of legal sales of recreational pot, customers spent more than $1.9 million, according to the N.M. Cannabis Control Division.

Here as elsewhere in New Mexico, smoking marijuana in public places is not allowed, although a licensing process could permit use in a “cannabis consumption area.”

The law allows individuals to grow up to six plants for each adult in a  household.

But in federal law, marijuana possession, sale or use is still illegal.

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