New Mexico novelty store gets cease-and-desist order for ‘gifting’ marijuana

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New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division is cracking down on a Las Cruces business for “gifting” marijuana to shoppers who bought non-MJ merchandise.

Speak Easy – described by its owner as “a novelty and gift shop … not a dispensary” – was giving “samples” of cannabis to customers who bought stickers for prices ranging from $15 to $90, according to El Paso, Texas, TV station KVIA.

When KVIA first reported the story on July 23, Speak Easy co-owner Jason Estrada told the news outlet he believed the practice was legal.

In an update to the story posted July 26, KVIA reported that the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) had served a cease-and-desist order to Speak Easy.

On July 20, CCD officials visited Speak Easy and warned the store that “gifting” cannabis “appeared to be violating the trafficking provision of (New Mexico’s Cannabis Regulation Act)” and “could result in a felony conviction,” according to a copy of the order posted online by KVIA.

“By open admission of the co-owners of Speak Easy … the business has knowingly and repeatedly engaged in conduct that constitutes intentional trafficking of cannabis products,” the order notes.

An attorney for Speak Easy told KVIA that the issue of cannabis gifting is “an unsettled area of law” in New Mexico.

New Mexico legalized recreational marijuana in April, but legal adult-use sales have not yet launched.

Cannabis “gifting” has recently come under regulatory scrutiny in New Jersey, where authorities have also issued cease-and-desist orders regarding the practice.