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Border Patrol will continue legal marijuana seizures in New Mexico

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The U.S. Border Patrol has doubled down on actions its agents took against state-legal marijuana companies in New Mexico in recent months, and reiterated in a statement Thursday that anyone transporting cannabis through one of its checkpoints could be arrested.

“El Paso Sector U.S. Border Patrol would like to remind the public that, although medical and recreational marijuana may be legal in some U.S. States and Canada, the sale, possession, production, and distribution of marijuana or the facilitation of the aforementioned remain illegal under U.S. federal law, given the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance,” the agency said in its statement.

“Consequently, individuals violating the Controlled Substances Act encountered while crossing the border, arriving at a U.S. port of entry, or at a Border Patrol checkpoint may be deemed inadmissible and/or subject to, seizure, fines, and/or arrest,” it said.

The statement came after New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham complained to the Department of Homeland Security over reports that state-licensed cannabis companies had had drivers stopped and product seized, ABC News reported.

It came to light earlier this month that the Border Patrol had seized “hundreds of thousands of dollars” worth of legally produced cannabis from registered companies.

“Secretary (Alejandro) Mayorkas assured the governor that federal policies with respect to legalized cannabis have not changed,” Lujan Grisham spokesperson Michael Coleman wrote in an email to ABC News. “Regardless, the governor and her administration are working on a strategy to protect New Mexico’s cannabis industry.”

A small group of licensed New Mexico marijuana companies also sent their own written plea to the state’s congressional delegation, asking for help in brokering a deal with the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees the Border Patrol, so that legal cannabis companies won’t keep arbitrarily losing their crops to federal seizures.

The seizures have been somewhat curious given that there’s been no corresponding such actions in Arizona or California, both of which have regulated cannabis markets and operations within 100 miles of the U.S.-Mexico border, which is the distance in which Border Patrol traffic checkpoints are authorized. Those checkpoints in New Mexico are where cannabis companies have had drivers stopped and product seized.

According to the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, the Border Patrol has stopped vehicles from at least 12 different marijuana companies at its checkpoints, and seized over $300,000 in legal cannabis, KRQE reported.

“Federal law does supersede state law. Unfortunately, as regulators, we don’t have much authority over this… again we are just trying to collect enough data to make sure we get accurate facts to the governor and her team to make the best decision possible,” Todd Stevens, director of the state Cannabis Control Division, told KRQE.

Matt Kennicott, the owner of cannabis company High Maintenance, said the situation has left him and other legal businesses in limbo, wondering if their investments are at risk.

“It’s not a little confusing, it’s a lot confusing,” he told ABC News. “We’re trying to figure out where this directive came from.”



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