Councilor proposes to keep cannabis out of Old Town, for now

Marijuana

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Amid ongoing discussions about where cannabis businesses can set up shop across Albuquerque, one city councilor wants to temporarily keep them away from Old Town.

City Councilor Isaac Benton said he supports the cannabis industry and his proposal doesn’t mean there will never be dispensaries in Old Town, but that city council needs more time to figure out what that could look like.

“[There are] very specific requirements on all sorts of things. And we should consider that and this will give us a year to do so,” Councilor Benton explained.

His proposed moratorium set to be introduced at city council Monday would keep the city from accepting building permits, land use, or business registration requests for cannabis retail, cultivation, or manufacturing in Old Town for a little more than a year. Benton said the city needs more time to look over potential zoning limits for cannabis within Old Town and review any other cannabis limitations or restrictions there.

The executive director of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce calls the moratorium fair and believes cannabis will eventually be in Old Town.

“It’s time contained so it’s not something that’s just going to go on and on in perpetuity and it’s very precise,” Ben Lewinger explained.

This comes as the city is working to figure out cannabis-related uses and zoning rules across Albuquerque, which are up for consideration at Monday’s city council meeting.

The proposed amendments for the city’s zoning code this year include prohibiting cannabis retail on lots abutting the main street corridor, within 300 feet of any school or child daycare facility, residential zone, group home, or religious institution. Dispensaries would be allowed near residential areas in mixed-use zones on a conditional use, if approved at a public hearing. That’s according to a packet of amendments provided by city council staff. They would also require at least 1,000 feet between cannabis retailers, up from a previously proposed 600 feet.

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