City updates application process for potential dispensaries following confusion

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – In less than two months, recreational marijuana sales will start in New Mexico and the City of Albuquerque has made some changes to their application process, with the hope it will make the process easier for potential dispensaries to follow.

A few weeks ago, the planning department announced a new application for location approval for new dispensaries. But that original application raised more questions than answers for business owners. So, they have changed a few key things about the application.

When the application was announced, multiple businesses scrambled to fill it out on time, not knowing it wasn’t required for them.

“We made it more explicit stating that a state licensed micro business or a preexisting medical dispensary does not need the cannabis location retail approval,” said Planning Department Public Information Coordinator Kate Farford-Johnson.

Along with that clarification, they also changed some of the requirements.

“We have heard that people are happy that the requirement to send in a notarized lease was removed because most leases are not notarized, and that would be an extra step. They would have to contact the landlord to prepare a document or even resign an entire lease, and that could be burdensome for someone,” said Alan Varela planning department director.

With this application being first come first serve, some businesses were worried they wouldn’t be able to find a location that could be approved, and the city is trying to alleviate that fear as well.

“We out lined the number of potential location for cannabis retail locations in the city limits that could meet the separation and zoning requirements and there are 10,000 potential location, so we wanted to highlight that to help eliminate some of the panic that we heard from people asking about the application process,” Farford-Johnson said.

This application is also free to submit. With these changes and clarifications, the city says it’s easier now than it was before to apply.

“You are just submitting who you are that is applying a copy of your state license a copy of your lease or other evidence that you have the right to use the property those are items that are readily available so it’s not like somebody had to go out and spend many hours and hire lawyers to submit the applications that it turns out they did not need to apply for anyway,” Varela said

So far they have revived 32 applications but the planning department could not answer whether or not those 32 include applications from micro businesses and medical dispensaries that didn’t need to apply.

While the city has updated the application, some business owners say it could still be improved. One of the co-owners of Carver Family Farms, Mathew Muñoz, says he thinks the city should add a section specifically for micro businesses.

“I think that would be the easiest thing for us in the micro business community if there was a section solely dedicated to micro businesses so you don’t have to read that giant website and go does this apply to micro does this not apply to a micro,” Muñoz said.