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As early as June 5th, the Las Cruces City Council will be voting on whether to remove the requirement for a 300-foot buffer between cannabis dispensaries and residential neighborhoods. Meanwhile, some other cities have far greater buffer distance requirements, such as Denver which requires a buffer distance of 1,000 feet between cannabis dispensaries and residential neighborhoods.
Cannabis retailers and the City are lamenting that it is too difficult to find places to operate that are 300 feet away from residential areas. Yet, there are already over 100 cannabis businesses registered in the City. There is clearly no shortage of these businesses in Las Cruces.
Removing the 300-foot buffer will put Las Cruces’ children at-risk. Recent public health studies published have shown that, as more cannabis retailers move into an area, more children are likely to have substance abuse issues and they are likely to start using drugs at younger ages.
Las Cruces Public Schools recently spoke before the Council and reported they are seeing increased issues with children vaping cannabis in schools (including with vaping devices from NM dispensaries).
Cannabis is not harmless. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that adolescent brain development is hindered by use of cannabis. Studies have also found that there are higher rates of emphysema and lung problems in marijuana smokers than in cigarette smokers.
Instead of removing the 300-foot buffer for residential neighborhoods, I am calling on the City Council to extend this same protection to more children by adding a 300-foot buffer for multi-family residential areas. There needs to be a balance between supporting this new industry and also making sure that this community is giving its children and families the greatest chance of success.