New Mexico Governor Criticizes Homeland Security Secretary’s Response to Cannabis Seizures

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has expressed strong dissatisfaction with Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas over his handling of cannabis seizures from licensed marijuana businesses in the state. During a recent phone call with an unnamed federal official, Lujan Grisham said she was “offended” by Mayorkas’ response to the issue.

Recently, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents have conducted at least a dozen seizures of regulated cannabis at immigration checkpoints in southern New Mexico. This has occurred despite the state’s legalization of recreational marijuana in 2021. Federal law permits CBP to establish checkpoints within 100 miles of the Mexican border.

Michael Coleman, the governor’s director of communications, stated that Lujan Grisham had discussed the problem with Mayorkas to protect New Mexico’s cannabis industry, which has generated over $1 billion in sales. “The governor noted that industry operators in border states where cannabis is legal appear to be at greater risk of scrutiny and arrest by U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents than those in non-border states that have legalized cannabis,” Coleman explained in a statement to KRQE television news. Mayorkas reassured the governor that federal policies regarding legalized cannabis remain unchanged. Nevertheless, the governor and her administration are devising a strategy to safeguard New Mexico’s cannabis sector.

Governor Lujan Grisham ‘Offended’ by Secretary Mayorkas’ Response

Following her conversation with Mayorkas, Lujan Grisham shared her dissatisfaction with an unidentified federal official in a call that was recorded and posted online by Tore Maras, who runs the website “Tore Says.” Politico confirmed the recording’s authenticity.

In the call, Lujan Grisham expressed her concerns about the seizures and felt constrained by the federal government’s actions. “The secretary said to me: ‘Who cares? They make a lot of money,’” Lujan Grisham recounted. “I thought that was really inappropriate.”

She emphasized the importance of cannabis for patients, stating, “It’s patients’ medicine. So, I was really offended by that. Shame on him.” She added that for small producers, losing a load could be devastating for their business.

Lujan Grisham mentioned that she had avoided involving the press but was prepared to push back if necessary. “Either you have to adjust it, or I have to send you a letter saying you’re persecuting the states, you are not using your discretion, you’re not working with me on immigration,” she warned. “And I don’t want to send that letter, but I’m boxed in.”

Despite state-level legalization, CBP officials maintain that marijuana remains illegal under federal law. “Consequently, individuals violating the Controlled Substances Act encountered while crossing the border, arriving at a U.S. port of entry, or at a Border Patrol checkpoint may be deemed inadmissible and/or subject to seizures, fines, and/or arrest,” a CBP spokesperson told Politico.

Governor’s Office Confirms Authenticity of Recording

The governor’s office confirmed the recording’s authenticity to Newsweek, clarifying that the conversation was with a “high-level federal administration official,” without specifying the agency. “This unauthorized and edited recording of the governor’s private phone call reflects what she has already said publicly—that she is frustrated by federal seizures of licensed cannabis products in New Mexico, particularly those from small producers,” Coleman told Newsweek. “She has expressed the same concerns in phone calls with Secretary Mayorkas.”

The seizures of regulated cannabis in New Mexico are causing widespread concern within the industry. David Craig, chief marketing officer at Missouri licensed cannabis company Illicit Gardens, criticized the targeted seizures. “Selective enforcement is counter to state laws and state constitutional provisions protecting the cannabis industry,” Craig wrote in an email to High Times. “Can you imagine any other legal industry in the US having its goods seized by the government without cause? It’s out of the question. Even with the great strides the US has made on cannabis over the last several years, unauthorized federal seizures and targeting blatantly contradictory to state law remain a constant fear for cannabis operators of any size.”


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