Federal Crackdown on New Mexico’s Legal Weed Industry

In a surprising move, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have begun targeting licensed cannabis businesses in New Mexico, seizing regulated products at border checkpoints. This development has left many in the industry stunned, as it marks a departure from the relatively hands-off approach federal authorities have taken in states where marijuana is legal.

New Mexico legalized medical marijuana in 2019 and recreational cannabis in 2021, with regulated sales beginning on April 1, 2022. Since then, the state’s licensed cannabis businesses have operated largely without interference from federal authorities. However, over the past two weeks, CBP agents have seized cannabis products at least a dozen times, according to Ben Lewinger, executive director of the New Mexico Chamber of Commerce.

Lewinger believes that the state’s cannabis businesses are being unfairly targeted by federal officials and is calling on the Biden administration to intervene. “It’s hurting small businesses, and it’s hurting all of us because of the loss of tax revenue,” he said.

The seizures have been taking place at immigration checkpoints within 100 miles of the international border with Mexico, where CBP officers are permitted to operate. While these checkpoints are typically navigated without incident by licensed cannabis companies, the recent seizures have raised concerns that federal officials are specifically targeting New Mexico’s weed industry.

Nick Spoor, operations manager at Top Crop Cannabis Co., reported that his company has regularly transported cannabis products through CBP checkpoints without issue. However, that changed when agents seized products from one of their vehicles on Valentine’s Day.

The situation has left many in the industry feeling frustrated and concerned about the impact on their businesses. “People’s lives are at stake here. Businesses are at stake here. And it can affect some people with very dire circumstances and they could lose everything they’ve had,” said Matt Chadwick, CEO of Top Crop Cannabis Co.

A CBP spokesperson denied allegations that officers in New Mexico are targeting licensed cannabis businesses, citing federal law that classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. However, industry leaders are calling on the federal government to respect state laws and allow licensed businesses to operate without interference.

As the situation continues to unfold, one thing is clear: the federal crackdown on New Mexico’s legal weed industry has significant implications for businesses, workers, and the state’s economy as a whole.


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