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Cannabis Industry Perplexed as Feds Seize Marijuana from State-Legal Businesses

In the last two months, federal officials have seized hundreds of pounds of cannabis intended for retail sale from state-licensed businesses in New Mexico. This is in addition to detaining workers in the industry in what appears to be an escalation of enforcement of prohibition at the national level.

This is despite the fact that the federal government has thus far avoided interfering with the implementation of legalization laws at the state level.

Reports from cannabis businesses in the state show that more than 12 seizures by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have occurred, particularly at checkpoints inside the state of New Mexico. CBP is allowed to conduct its activities within 100 miles of the United States border. This move by the feds has perplexed many, especially because New Mexico launched recreational cannabis sales in 2022 with operators revealing that they have had no issues transporting their products to retailers and testing facilities across the state.

In a recent interview, the executive director of the state’s Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, Ben Lewinger, revealed that numerous successful marijuana producers and manufacturers operated near the CBP checkpoints. Lewinger explained that most roads taken from the southern to northern parts of the state required individuals to pass through a checkpoint, noting that this made it impossible for operators in New Mexico’s southern region to transport their products to the northern or central parts of the state.

Since February, CBP has carried out no less than 13 stops and seizures of state-legal cannabis products, particularly around the Las Cruces area. Lewinger believes that this number is underreported, particularly since most people still have some stigma and fear over cannabis and its use.

Matt Chadwick, Top Crop Cannabis Co. CEO, revealed that in February his employee was delivering 22 pounds of product with a total value of roughly $139,000 to the company’s locations in Albuquerque when he was stopped at a checkpoint. A dog then alerted CBP agents to the smell, leading to a secondary inspection.

Chadwick revealed that the employee ended up being detained for a number of hours before being released with no documentation and none of the product. When the employee inquired about the product, an agent informed him that he would receive information on how he would be reimbursed for the seized product via mail.

Other affected businesses include Schwazze, which did receive documentation on its seized product but has no hope for possible reimbursement.

Industry actors such as Curaleaf Holdings Inc. (CSE: CURA) (OTCQX: CURLF) will be waiting to hear what explanation the feds give for seizing cannabis products from licensed companies going about their legitimate state-sanctioned activities.

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