At Checkpoints Along the Us-Mexico Border, Seizing Marijuana is a Problem for the Legal Marijuana Business in Each State

At Checkpoints Along the Us-Mexico Border, Seizing Marijuana is a Problem for the Legal Marijuana Business in Each State

The U.S. Border Patrol is saying that it has the power to seize cannabis shipments, even if they are commercial, state-approved supplies. This comes as registered cannabis providers say that over $300,000 worth of marijuana has been taken away at highway checkpoints in southern New Mexico in the past few months.

The disruptions led to a conversation this week between New Mexico’s Democratic governor and U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who was cleared of impeachment charges this week. It seems like cannabis businesses are being looked at more closely in New Mexico than in states with controlled markets that aren’t on the border with Mexico, according to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Since the recreational market was regulated and taxed two years ago, New Mexico has seen more than $1 billion in legal cannabis sales. But drivers who carry cannabis say they have been held for hours while their supplies were taken away at permanent Border Patrol checkpoints, which are usually found about 60 miles (100 kilometers) from the U.S. border and search incoming traffic for illegal drugs and people who are not supposed to be there.

In an email, Michael Coleman, a spokesman for Lujan Grisham, said, “Secretary Mayorkas reassured the governor that federal policies have not changed with respect to legalized cannabis.” “No matter what, the governor and her staff are working on a plan to keep New Mexico’s cannabis industry safe.”

Last week, managers of 10 cannabis businesses, including transporters, asked New Mexico’s congressional delegation to help make sure shipments could get through without any problems. They said that jobs and investments were at risk and that some couriers had to wait for “secondary inspection” and were fingerprinted at Border Patrol checkpoints.

The letter says, “We ask that operators whose goods have been seized by the federal government be given the choice of getting their goods back or being paid for their losses.”

Martin Heinrich, a senator from the United States, said that the Department of Homeland Security should focus on more important issues right now, not on cannabis sellers who follow state law.

“The Department of Homeland Security should be stopping the flow of illegal fentanyl into our country at these checkpoints, not seizing cannabis that’s being transported legally,” the senator said in a statement. The senator was talking about the Department of Homeland Security, which is the parent agency for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. “People in New Mexico trust federal police to do everything they can to keep our neighborhoods safe.” Our resources should be used to keep people safe, not to take attention away from it.

Thursday, the part of the U.S. Border Patrol that is in charge of New Mexico reminded the public that weed is still a “Schedule 1” drug, which is the same label given to heroin and LSD.

“Although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. federal law,” the agency said. Accordingly, people who break the Controlled Substances Act and are caught crossing the border, at a U.S. port of entry, or at a Border Patrol stop may not be allowed to enter the country and may be arrested, fined, or taken into custody.

Matt Kennicott, owner of the cannabis business High Maintenance in Socorro, said that seizures by the Border Patrol started without warning in February and make it hard to know what will happen with shipments that contain samples for testing on customer safety. He said that weed growers in the southernmost part of New Mexico depend on testing labs farther north, past Border Patrol checkpoints, to make sure they follow rules that protect against mold or pesticides.

He said, “It’s not a little confusing, it’s a lot confusing.” It’s our job to find out where this order came from.

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