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Mexico is poised to become the biggest legal marijuana market in the world. Who will most benefit?

Mexico is poised to become the biggest legal marijuana market in the world. Who will most benefit?

Mexico’s marijuana revolution is on display steps from the nation’s Senate, where for the last nine months activists have maintained a fragrant cannabis garden.



a close up of a person holding an object in his hand: An activist smokes marijuana at a protest encampment outside Mexico's Senate building. (Ricardo Castelan Cruz / Eyepix Group / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)


© (Ricardo Castelan Cruz / Eyepix Group / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
An activist smokes marijuana at a protest encampment outside Mexico’s Senate building. (Ricardo Castelan Cruz / Eyepix Group / Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Each day, hundreds of people stroll amid a labyrinth of towering green plants, freely lighting joints and getting high.

Their wafting smoke is meant to serve as a reminder to senators, who have to walk through the plumes to get to work. Lawmakers have until Dec. 15 to pass pot legislation under orders from the Supreme Court, which two years ago struck down a marijuana ban as unconstitutional.

After decades of restrictive drug policies that fueled deadly cartel wars, Mexico is poised to become the biggest legal cannabis market in the world.



a group of people in a garden: Mexico's marijuana revolution is on display steps from the nation's Senate, where for the last nine months activists have maintained a fragrant cannabis garden. (Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times)


© (Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times)
Mexico’s marijuana revolution is on display steps from the nation’s Senate, where for the last nine months activists have maintained a fragrant cannabis garden. (Kate Linthicum / Los Angeles Times)

The looming deadline has intensified debate over exactly what legalization should look like and whom it should benefit. Among the questions dogging lawmakers: How easy or difficult should it be for users to buy and consume pot? And should the estimated 200,000 families growing it now be protected from competition with the large, foreign marijuana firms that have been jockeying for influence?

“You have a broad spectrum of people who want to be involved,” said Avis Bulbulyan, a Glendale-based consultant who has advised several U.S. weed companies looking to expand to Mexico. “The question becomes: ‘Who gets to profit off this?'”

A bill that would allow private companies to sell

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Strict rules keep business out of New Mexico loan program

Strict rules keep business out of New Mexico loan program

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Only about $20 million of a $400 million loan program for New Mexico small businesses hit by the pandemic has been approved to send out since the program began in August, according to the state agency running the program.

“We created the program, believing that about 5,000 applications would be processed. And it’s a much smaller volume than that,” said New Mexico Finance Authority CEO Marquita Russel at a presentation to state legislators Tuesday.

Low participation has saved the agency money on contractors, Russel said.

But it’s also a sign that the legislation isn’t reaching many small businesses. Fewer than 900 businesses have applied for loans under the program, which range from $500 to $75,000.


That’s despite ongoing pain in the New Mexico economy where the 11.3% August unemployment rate was far higher than the national average of 8.4%, and businesses face occupancy limits ranging from 75% for hotels to 25% for restaurants.

Hundreds of applications have been rejected.

Around 85% of those businesses that didn’t qualify for the Small Business Recovery Loan Fund failed to meet the requirement of showing a loss of at least 30% of revenue in April and May compared with the same period in 2019.

That included for-profit companies that already had “business in the hopper,” Russel said, even if they’re going broke now.

It also includes nonprofits that raise the bulk of their money during other times of the year, and there’s no flexibility in the program for businesses that are less than a year old and therefore can’t compare revenues.

The fund gives two months’ worth of operating expenses to eligible entities owned by residents at an interest rate of around 2%, with no payments required in the first year.

Investment and Pension Oversight Committee Chairman Sen. George

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New Mexico loses ground in COVID-19 spread fight

New Mexico loses ground in COVID-19 spread fight

SANTA FE, N.M. — New Mexico is losing ground in efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 as newly reported daily infections hit a record of 488 cases.

Three additional deaths from the pandemic also were disclosed Friday by state health officials as fatalities from the pandemic surpassed 900.

Bernalillo County, with the state’s most populous urban area, accounted for 135 new cases, while Dona Ana had 81. Lea and Chaves counties together accounted for 77 new cases.

The state’s infection and positivity rates for the spread of the virus are climbing as the administration of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham holds the line on emergency public health restrictions.


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HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THE VIRUS OUTBREAK:

— President Trump credits antibody drug for quick recovery

— Spain declares state of emergency in Madrid to contain surge

— As virus fills French ICUs anew, doctors ask what went wrong

— British government will announce more support for businesses to retain staff in the coming months if they are forced to close because of lockdown restrictions.

— President Donald Trump says he wants to try to hold a campaign rally in Florida on Saturday, despite his recent COVID-19 diagnosis.

— Follow AP’s pandemic coverage at http://apnews.com/VirusOutbreak and https://apnews.com/UnderstandingtheOutbreak

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HERE’S WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING:

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — Enrolled members of the Navajo Nation will be eligible for payments of up to $1,500 as part of the tribe’s response to the coronavirus.

President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer on Friday approved the $49 million plan adopted by the tribal council. The funding comes from the tribe’s share of federal coronavirus relief funding.

Adults will be eligible for payments of $1,500 while minors are eligible for $500.

Nez said in a statement that there isn’t enough funding to

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Prent Corp. to open packaging factory in New Mexico

Prent Corp. to open packaging factory in New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A manufacturer of plastic packaging used for medical equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic plans to build its next factory in southern New Mexico.

Prent Corp. will invest $12.5 million into the project and create 85 new jobs, according to a release from the Borderplex Alliance.

​“Southern New Mexico is brimming with opportunity,” Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said. “The growth potential here is limitless. These good-paying jobs are proof positive that New Mexico is known around the country as business-friendly and a great place to invest right now.”

Construction of the plant in Santa Teresa, Doña Ana County, is still pending approval. It could be up and running by the fall of 2021, according to the Borderplex Alliance.

“Prent Corporation’s opening will add a substantial number of good-paying jobs to Doña Ana County,” County Commission Chair Lynn Ellins said. “Santa Teresa is an excellent location for contributing to Prent’s success. This is especially good news to receive in the midst of a pandemic.”


Designed to build sterile barrier packages for medical devices, the plant would be equipped with stringently regulated clean rooms.

The Janesville, Wisconsin-based company has partnered with medical companies during the pandemic to ship personal protective equipment such as face shields, according to Boston Scientific Corp.

The Borderplex Alliance promotes cross-border business interests in the tri-state, bi-national border region encompassing Las Cruces, New Mexico; El Paso, Texas; and Chihuahua, Mexico.

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