Two Torrance County marijuana farming operations – including one already under investigation by state Attorney General’s Office — are facing preliminary injunctions to
halt production for a laundry list of violations under the Cannabis Control Division of the state Regulation Licensing Department.
The first company, Bliss Farm – also doing business as Love 420 and Grown Farm – was licensed for and had paid for 8,500 plants, but a June inspection revealed the three sites were growing “about 18,000 mature cannabis plants,” according to an injunction petition filed last month in the Seventh Judicial Court in Torrance County.
And the other business, Native American Agricultural Development Company has grossly flaunted its growing license, a separate petition claims.
The Independent in August reported that Bliss and it’s other farms were under state and federal investigation, which AG spokesperson Lauren Rodriguez acknowledged with the statement: “We can confirm that the New Mexico Attorney General’s Office is investigating allegations of potential wage theft and human or labor trafficking at a cannabis cultivation facility in Torrance County.
“Our special agents, along with state and federal law enforcement partners from multiple agencies are currently evaluating evidence recently recovered from the facility to determine if there have been any violations of the law,” the statement continued. “This is an open and active investigation.”
Because of that investigation, CCD was told to “temporarily halt administrative action against the licensee,” according to the petition written by Robert Sachs, CCD division counsel.
In September, however, CCD was told “that conducting its administrative actions would not frustrate the investigations,” he wrote. Rodriguez did say this week that the investigation is continuing.
And an inspection later in september revealed that Grown Farms marijuana-growing license had already expired.
In seeking the injunctions against both entities, each petitions pointed out that the CCD “lacks administrative authority to immediately halt commercial cannabis activity,” Sachs wrote, and must follow timelines requiring an administrative hearing – which could take several months — before imposing disciplinary action.
In addition, “current operations also pose a severe risk of irreparable harm to the health and safety of qualified patients and adult use consumers,” Sachs wrote of both operations. “Current regulations require that all cannabis be tested to ensure the product is free of pesticides, microbials or other contaminants that, when consumed, can cause severe injury. Respondent has no evidence that any quality assurance testing has taken place.”
Additionally, there is no evidence on site of the origins of the plants and required use of inventory software has been ignored.
If the injunction is not granted at the Bliss operations, the operator would be able to continue its activities, which have been “identified as being grossly non-compliant,” and “poses a heightened risk of inversion or diversion of cannabis into the illicit market,” he wrote.
While the petition admitted the operation could face financial hardships, “it must be noted that any revenue Respondent would lose would be illegally generated revenue from the sale of untagged, untested cannabis plants grown in excess of the allowable amount,” Sachs wrote.
The Native American Agricultural Development Company received a license to grow 3,500 plants, but a September inspection revealed the operation had about 55,000 plants on site, about 30,000 of which were mature.
The development company did not complete any quality assurance testing determining potency of the marijuana as well as it’s freedom from contaminants, nor did it have the required procedures for chain of custody, employee health and safety and the transportation of cannabis.
The site also lacked security measures like a digital surveillance system and alarm system and did not have any means of inventory tracking or transporting marijuana plans, the petition claimed.
Additionally, the site south of Estancia was found “not to be conducive to the production of cannabis due to: pests found on the cannabis plants, unsafe and improper electrical wiring, large amounts of trash found on site, open alcohol containers found on site, improper storage rooms that pose a high risk of product degradation and contamination,” Sachs wrote.