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Eunice finalizes cannabis ordinance

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Curtis Wynne/News-Sun

EUNICE — Within 30 days, the City of Eunice will join other communities around New Mexico getting used to having legal marijuana sales inside the city.

With little discussion, the Eunice City Council this week formalized an ordinance to regulate, insofar as the community is allowed by state law, the “possession, cultivation, manufacture and sale of cannabis.”

The state’s Cannabis Regulation Act of 2021 allows local communities to develop rules regarding time, place and manner of sales, reasonably limiting density of licenses, permissible consumption areas and operating hours.

“The city can regulate that,” City Attorney Tommy Parker told councilors at the Monday meeting of the city council. “You can’t regulate whether they can come in and do business here.”

For its second and final reading, Parker presented the draft ordinance, noting the difference between cannabis growers and dispensaries where the city is concerned.

“The ordinance is ready to implement and as soon as it goes into effect, the city will be in a position to start discussions with those seeking to have a dispensary and those seeking to have a growers’ permit,” Parker said. “The major issue will be how we address the water and the impact it has on the water table.”

The attorney pointed out the city’s size and limited access to water may also limit the number of growers who can operate in the area.

“Dispensaries are a little different as long as it’s not near a school, a daycare or a church, within 300 feet,” Parker said.

Planning to open a dispensary after the ordinance goes into effect, officials of Eunice’s apparently first cannabis business, Toker King LLC, watched as the new ordinance received unanimous approval of the council.

“The Toker King would like to open a marijuana dispensary at 1600 Ave O in the old McCasland Building,” said City Manager Shannon Cummins in her introduction of the company’s officials. “All sales would be for recreational marijuana and would be subject to taxes.”

Cummins said she invited Toker King operators — Robert W. Lance, Tresa A. Lance and Kevin T. Carter — to the council meeting to provide an opportunity for them and the councilors to answer each others’ questions.

“Mr. Lance is looking at some property at 1600 Avenue O,” Cummins told the council. “He would be following the guidelines of our ordinance. He’s kind of been sitting on this while we’ve been doing the ordinance. It will only be a dispensary. It will only be recreational.”

Avenue O is a major east-west street through Eunice also known as state highway NM 176.

Councilors confirmed the Toker King operation would have no medical marijuana sales.

“That’s a different license we don’t have,” Lance said.

Parker reminded the council the ordinance just approved addresses recreational cannabis dispensaries and growers only.

“The medical (cannabis) is another beast,” the attorney concluded.

According to a prepared business summary provided to the council, “Toker King fully intends on operating a business which will benefit not only Eunice’s residents, but also give back to Eunice’s community and economy.”

In other action, the council finalized a noise ordinance after a second reading to give police officers the power to enforce a late-night reduction of noises in the city.

Parker reminded the council the new noise ordinance defines weekdays as Sunday through Thursday nights when noises must be reduced at 10 p.m. Weekends are Friday and Saturday nights when the time extends to midnight.

Explaining the ordinance, Cummins told to the council, “It was brought to our attention that we needed a noise ordinance so that the police department can issue citations for loud noises throughout the city, within the guidelines of the ordinance.”

The noise ordinance also becomes effective 30 days after its unanimous council approval on Monday.

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