SUNLAND PARK, New Mexico (Border Report) – Sunland Park has amended its cannabis ordinance, rejecting a plan for 24-hour sales but approving drive-thrus and letting new shops set up 200 feet away from schools and daycares.
The changes come as the cannabis industry in El Paso’s western neighbor experiences explosive growth fueled by visiting Texas patrons and local sales.
“We’ve had 30 inquiries at different points. We anticipate more shops opening in Sunland Park,” Mayor Javier Perea said. “The issue we are running into is we don’t have enough buildings. So, a lot of the new retail locations are going to have to build from the ground up.”
The city council this month authorized licensed cannabis shops to add drive-thru windows for convenience and to cut down on long lines. Councilors weren’t sold on ’round-the-clock sales, but they will let merchants open from 8 a.m. to midnight on Sundays, and 7 a.m. to midnight the rest of the week.
With no major public safety issues reported since New Mexico permitted recreational marijuana sales in April, the council also reduced the distance new shops can set up from schools and daycares. The old standard was at least 300 feet, the new rule is only 200 feet away.
City officials say three cannabis shops are up and running so far with two more far along in the permitting process. Commercial locales are in such demand that sales out of “modular” (temporary structures) may be allowed contingent on a permanent structure being built, the mayor said.
“What we hope at the end of the day is that the cannabis industry, although a small component (of the city’s economy), will catalyze further investment and bring more tourism so new hotels will come in, new entertainment venues will come in,” Perea said.
The city did not immediately have marijuana sales and tax collection figures available, but elected officials hope to route such income to two main areas: public safety and community development.
Sunland Park recently received $950,000 in federal funds for a new public safety complex. The mayor said the funds would be used for a feasibility study. The police department is currently operating out of the old Sunland Park Elementary School building.