ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Officials and dispensary owners have said it before: the cannabis industry in Albuquerque is becoming overgrown. Now one city councilor is proposing some changes that could corral where those shops spring up.
Albuquerque City Councilor Renee Grout wants to change city rules—the Integrated Development Ordinance (IDO)—to put more space between cannabis dispensaries and change where they go.
“If you go down San Mateo, its dispensary, dispensary, dispensary, dispensary. And that is way oversaturated,” said Richard Jones, owner of 1 Stop Smoke Shop on San Pedro.
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He said he’s seen dispensary after dispensary crop up around his store. “They wanted to open just five doors down from me and then there’s another one right down the street, and then there’s another one down the street. And right around the corner, there’s two more,” Jones said.
Right now, city zoning rules say one cannabis shop can be within 600 feet of another, and operations deemed microbusinesses can be even closer. However, people in the cannabis field say this is causing a problem. “It is oversaturated. There is just too much and there’s too many choices for all the people,” Jones said.
Those concerns have reached the ears of City Councilor Renee Grout, who is now proposing to change the city’s zoning code. “We need to make some changes to that. We have a little bit of an oversaturation and so I’ve proposed some changes that will help hopefully mitigate that,” Grout said.
The changes include increasing the distance between cannabis shops from 600 feet to 660 feet—the equivalent of two city blocks. Grout also wants to remove the distance exception for microbusinesses and get rid of the definition of a microbusiness, and not allow these shops to be in residential areas. “Between here and my work I pass six cannabis stores and that’s a lot. It’s a lot. That’s more than gas stations,” Grout said, “We’re just trying to close some loopholes in [the IDO].”
Grout said she doesn’t want to see smaller cannabis businesses fail because of oversaturation. Jones said he thinks it’s a good idea. “It’s just smart business. Because why would you have so many, boom boom boom in a row?” Jones said.
Another proposed change would get rid of the ‘conditional use allowance’; it would stop cannabis stores from being allowed to apply for an exemption to opening their shop within 600 feet of another.
Grout says the Environmental Planning Commission will review the proposals Thursday. If these changes pass, councilors could vote them into the city’s ordinance in the spring.