NM cannabis regs should target black market – Albuquerque Journal

 A Reynold Greenleaf & Associates cannabis operation in Albuquerque. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

As a recent package of stories in the Journal documented, the legalization of recreational cannabis will be a hot topic in the upcoming legislative session.

But much more is at stake than the yes/no question of legalization versus the status quo. We’re talking business regulation.

The recreational cannabis industry has long been regulated by an elaborate, expensive alphabet soup of federal and state agencies with overlapping responsibilities. The stated regulatory goal – eradication – was never serious and never pursued more than half-heartedly. All the agencies involved were tasked with other, far more pressing duties, anyway.

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What we’ve lacked is any regulatory body charged with responsibility for ensuring consumer and worker safety while enforcing fair competition among producers adhering to high standards of quality.

Creating such a regulatory body from scratch won’t be easy, but that’s the job awaiting our Legislature. On the plus side, we can learn from the experience of other states and Canada, avoiding their mistakes and emulating their successes.

On the minus side, some voices in the debate seem to regard legalization primarily as a means for raking in
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