PERALTA — Following the lead of several other municipalities in the state, the town of Peralta unanimously approved an ordinance regulating retail sales, manufacturing and cultivation of cannabis.

As of late June, recreational cannabis use is legal in New Mexico for individuals 21 years old and older, leaving municipalities to establish ordinances and regulations for commercial cannabis retailers and producers.

While the town’s ordinance generally follows the rules outlined in the state statute passed during the March 2021 special legislative session, it has some more restrictive elements.

Any cannabis establishment — retail, cultivation or manufacturing — may only be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. on any day of the week.

The largest changes taken on by the town council include any cannabis establishments are not allowed to be built within 300 feet of churches, as well as schools and day care facilities as outlined by the state, and for cannabis cultivation buildings to be at least 30 feet from the edge of the property line.

The council agreed to increase the setbacks, as recommended by Dr. Mark Evanko, a member of the  Peralta Planning and Zoning Commission, to prevent large cannabis cultivation facilities from being built on smaller town lots.

Evanko expressed his worry of large cannabis operations essentially hindering landscape views within the town.

Additionally, any cannabis retail establishment in the town may only operate within 500 feet of another cannabis establishment if a conditional use permit is obtained through the town of Peralta. A conditional use permit application costs $250 with the town, with a $125 renewal fee.

Local municipalities are limited in what can be regulated  in terms of cannabis use and sales to locations of commercial shops and hours of operation. Any local city or county government cannot outright prohibit commercial sales of cannabis and cannabis products.

During the meeting when the ordinance was approved, the councilors underwent a lengthy discussion about the manner and means of how commercial cannabis establishments should be regulated within the town before voting on the agreed-upon changes.

Several town residents attended the meeting, however many left before the public hearing on the ordinance was opened, following the hour and half long discussion of the council members.

One individual who stayed until the public hearing period in regards to the ordinance asked for churches to be added to the types of properties in which cannabis establishments could not be built within 300 feet. The council agreed, adding it to the ordinance.

Businesses were able to begin applying for state commercial cannabis licenses on Sept. 1.

The full ordinance passed by the Peralta Town Council can be viewed on the town’s website, townofperalta.org, within the Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance 2007-09.

The next Peralta Town Council meeting is scheduled to be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26, at the Peralta Town Hall.

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Makayla Grijalva was born and raised in Las Cruces. She is a 2020 graduate of The University of New Mexico, where she studied multimedia journalism, political science and history. She covers the village of Los Lunas, Los Lunas Schools, SODA and the town of Peralta.