Is APD ready for recreational marijuana?

[anvplayer video=”5084742″ station=”998127″]

"This is no longer a maybe, could’ve, should’ve, would’ve – it’s time to act,” said Duke Rodriguez, the CEO of Ultra Health, the biggest chain of marijuana dispensaries in the state. He is counting down the days to April 1, when recreational marijuana sales go live.

"It’s jobs, it’s product, it’s locations, it’s landlords, it’s buildings, it’s everything you can imagine,” said Rodriguez.

He might be ready…but is Albuquerque? After a break-in at one of his Albuquerque stores in December, he says police took five hours to show up. That sparked concern about whether police are ready for dozens more dispensaries to open in a matter of months.

"Not that I’m waving a red flag encouraging theft or whatever but we have to realize there are going to be serious safeguard issues and it’s a lot of cash floating throughout the state in small towns like Lordsburg, and in major cities like Albuquerque,” said Rodriguez.

He wants his employees, patients, and new customers to feel safe from day one.

"When you come here, it’s going to be safe, when you leave here, it’s going to be safe,” said Rodriguez. “But for that to happen it’s going to require the support of the mayor, city council, and especially law enforcement."

He took the question directly to the city’s leaders during a Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce luncheon in early January.

"Very soon there will probably be twenty, thirty new dispensaries in Albuquerque alone. Is the city ready for it?" asked Rodriguez.

Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller said it comes down to the cannabis industry backing the metro crime initiative.

"How can you help us respond faster? It’s right here,” said Mayor Keller, holding up a pamphlet that outlines the metro crime initiative. “Back every single thing in here. And tell everyone else to do it too."

Police Chief Harold Medina suggested monthly meetings with industry leaders.

"There are crime prevention ideas that we could give,” said Chief Medina. “There’s advice we could give on how stores are designed, there are a lot of different things that we could bring to the table to offer so that you could also help protect yourselves."

Rodriguez hopes to see ideas put into practice soon — before it’s too late.

"It needs to be on their radar, and if it’s not, I’m afraid of what a painful transition this could be,” he said. “We no longer can avoid it."