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New Mexico State Fair ousts cannabis plant

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — “Dorothy,” a 3-week-old female medical cannabis plant, made her debut at the opening day of the New Mexico State Fair on Thursday but was booted out before the day’s end.

The plant was on display at a booth paid for by New Mexico Top Organics — Ultra Health LLC.

Her presence was advertised in a company press release as only the second time a cannabis plant has made an appearance at a state fair in the United States, given that marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and is authorized in New Mexico for certain medical conditions.

“We hope that the fair will raise the profile of medical cannabis as an agricultural asset in New Mexico, similar to the Hatch green chile, pecans and piñon nuts,” Duke Rodriguez, CEO of Ultra Health, one of the state’s 35 licensed medical marijuana producers, said in the press release.

But after Ultra Health set up the booth, a State Fair manager told Rodriguez that “there has been a huge mistake” and asked him to remove the plant, together with printed materials that contained images of cannabis plants, Rodriguez said in a phone interview late Thursday. Initially, State Fair personnel agreed to let the booth remain through the end of the day.

But a State Police officer later approached Rodriguez and said he needed to remove the plant and other items immediately, he said.

Ultra Health had signed a contract with the New Mexico State Fair and paid a $2,000 fee for a booth, Rodriguez said. “We disclosed the items that would be there, including a plant,” he said.

David Morgan, public information officer for the state Department of Health, said the department plans to investigate because the production of medical cannabis is supposed to occur in a secure facility approved by the state.

“We are looking into the matter and will take appropriate action, which can include suspending their business operation or other disciplinary action,” Morgan said in an email to the Journal.

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