By Meredith Hughes
The medical cannabis farm on the property of the Komadina family at the north end of Corrales is infused with investor capital, a management team and energy, as exemplified in Aaron Brogdon, in a swirl of activity recently.
Brogdon heads up Corrales Management, which soon will oversee three medical cannabis retail outlets.
The project’s licensed non-profit producer (LNPP) is Southwest Organic Producers, which first began business in 2009. Its first retail operation is on Montgomery, just east of Interstate 25, with a second location opening at 219 Central Avenue this month. The third retail shop is intended to operate in Corrales, in space leased in what is known as “the Kim Jew building,” at 4604 Corrales Road, by this fall.
And the Corrales outlet will immediately benefit from what Brogdon described as “better quality product,” grown in Corrales. Right now the Komadina property at 379 Camino de Corrales del Norte has three greenhouses, as well as a nursery for new plants. The veg house is where new plants reach their teen years, and the flower house, is where plants potted into ten-gallon containers do their final growing.
Brogdon said about 50 such plants will be put in the ground outdoors soon. And he added that he is happy to give people tours of the operation as time allows.The first major harvest will be towards the end of August —right now the farm has three employees— and by then will need an additional ten at least.
Though the site development plan application by Southwest Organic Producers, SWOP, for a cannabis dispensary to be located on Corrales Road was approved by the Village Planning and Zoning Commission on November 20, 2019, assorted hoops required jumping through, or what P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout described soon thereafter as “applicable state and federal agencies on their specific requirements.”
Spencer Komadina, Tom Murray and Chris Sandoval, among others, contributed to the dialogue on November 20. Prior to the go-ahead from P&Z, five LLCs were registered at the 379 Camino de Corrales del Norte address, in March, June and August of 2019.
The companies are Top Shelf Management LLC, Top Shelf Equipment And Assets LLC, Top Shelf Holding Company LLC, Fantasy Farm LLC, and Corrales Management LLC. According to Brogdon, Top Shelf “manages the farm, investments and all the property maintenance for the dispensaries. Corrales Management is the overall management company.”
Brogdon, 37, from Bosque Farms where he still lives, earned a degree in construction management from the University of New Mexico and has worked as a compliance manager dealing with the Army Corps of Engineers, and other entities. So he is working steadily to secure the lease, negotiating terms, with the first goal to take possession of the roughly 1,000 square foot space at the east end of the building for the medical cannabis outlet.
A second aim is a long term lease of the building at the corner of Corrales Road and Rincon Road, with SWOP as the anchor tenant. The most prized goal is to actually acquire the building. As of this writing, the building still is owned by Kim Jew, though for sale signs have been up there for some time. Back in 2019, Tom Murray explained to P&Z prior to their positive ruling that he was “the first cannabis producer in Corrales, and one of the first four in New Mexico.” He emphasized the gross receipts coming into the Village via a retail outlet would be based on an estimated “$4.2 million of revenue that will originate through that point of sale and will include a good portion of customers outside of the village.”
He went on to explain that “The one thing we can’t do in the Corrales location is manufacturing. We cannot do anything with product other than sell it. It may be packaged, but nothing more than that.”
“The other thing is, we are part of the community. We’ve been producing cannabis in this village since 2009, and this application is for the sale of product only. We are only distributing packaged goods.”
According to the New Mexico Department of Health, as of May 31, 2020, New Mexico had 94,042 registered Medical Cannabis Program card holders, with Sandoval County at 6,514, and Bernalillo, 30,562. Across the state, by far the biggest number of patients were suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 48,010 in number. People experiencing “severe chronic pain,” came in at 29,862.
John DuPree of Rio Rancho spoke at the November 20 P&Z meeting. “I grew up in Corrales. I raised a family out here and I’m also a medical cannabis patient. I would prefer to give my business to the village than to Albuquerque or Rio Rancho. I think this would benefit me as well as other people who are in my situation and think it would benefit the village. This has changed my life and I know it has changed the lives of a lot of other people.”
Still to come for New Mexico, legalization of recreational cannabis, a bill in the N.M. Legislature shot down in February of this year. But Brogdon is looking for more medical cannabis opportunities for SWOP in the future, possibly in Roswell or Hobbes. For the moment though, first there’s the “soft open” for the Central Avenue outlet as well as the lease on Corrales Road.
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