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SANTA FE – A former Colorado lobbyist who played a role in crafting that state’s marijuana legalization laws has been hired as the first director of New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division.
Kristen Thomson started her new job Nov. 1 and faces quick deadlines, with commercial cannabis sales slated to begin statewide by no later than April.
Lawmakers approved a bill to make New Mexico the 17th state to legalize recreational marijuana for adult users during a special session called by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in March.
While commercial sales will not begin until next year, possession and consumption of small amounts of marijuana is already legal under the new law.
Legislators also approved a separate measure to wipe certain cannabis-related convictions off New Mexicans’ criminal records, though the mechanics of expunging such records have proven challenging.
Thomson has worked for several different lobbying and consulting firms, according to her résumé.
Most recently, she advocated for a bill that allows branding initiatives – but not explicit advertising – by Colorado cannabis companies in her position as senior director of governmental affairs for The Green Solution, a cannabis retailer that operates about 20 different dispensaries.
As director of New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division, Thomson will direct the division’s licensing mandate and oversee additional rule-making in the run-up to the start of legal commercial cannabis sales.
The state has already adopted regulations dealing with producer licenses, fees and marijuana plant count limits for licensed producers.
The latest rule porposal would require licensed cannabis retailers to maintain a labor peace agreement with any union that represents retailer employees.
Such an agreement would prohibit boycotts, strikes and picketing against a dispensary, according to the proposal, which will be the subject of a Dec. 1 public hearing.
The Cannabis Control Division, which was established in June under New Mexico’s legalization law, is housed within the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department.
As the division’s director, Thomson will make an annual salary of $105,000, an RLD spokeswoman said.
Colorado was the second state to legalize recreational cannabis, but the first state to actually launch licensed sales in 2014.