Cannabis Control Division

New Mexico Store Obeys Cease & Desist, Will Stop “Gifting” Cannabis To Customers

New Mexico Store Obeys Cease & Desist, Will Stop “Gifting” Cannabis To Customers

Speak Easy NM, a Las Cruces, New Mexico business that describes itself as an “organics company and gift shop,” said that it would end the practice of “gifting” cannabis to customers following a cease-and-desist order from the state Cannabis Control Division.

Business owners Jason Estrada and Joseph Garza defended the practice as legal under the state’s legalization law –adults 21-and-older can legally give cannabis to one another.

Following a July 20 investigation, the Cannabis Control Division sent a cease and desist letter after it was discovered that Speak Easy was giving away cannabis with the purchase of a sticker. The price of the stickers matched the value of the cannabis being gifted and therefore is illegal.

“Violations of the Cannabis Regulation Act will be met with swift, strong action from the state,” State Regulation and Licensing Department Deputy Superintendent John Blair said in a statement. “[State cannabis regulators] will not tolerate any individuals or businesses who violate the Cannabis Regulation Act or otherwise diminish the integrity of the adult-use cannabis industry in New Mexico.”

In a statement, Speak Easy said it was not their intent to circumvent the law, and apologized to their customers and the community “for any confusion” the situation caused.

“The practice commonly referred to as ‘gifting’ will not occur on our premises, however, we are still able to assist the community with CBD products and merchandise,” said Matt Madrid, the attorney for Speak Easy NM.

Duke Rodriguez, the president and CEO of the prominent medical cannabis producer Ultra Health, said he went to see firsthand how the company was operating. He purchased a $15 sticker and was given one gram of cannabis, which he promptly threw away. 

“I don’t buy somebody’s untested product,” Rodriguez said. “It’s just not a smart thing.”

Ultra Health has taken the state to court numerous times and has gained a reputation among many in the New Mexico medical cannabis community as a self-serving business. While Rodriguez insists it’s about being consistent with the law and ensuring safe products for New Mexicans he also points to other financial concerns. 

“What I’m unhappy about is unregulated operators, unsafe operators,” Rodriguez said. “Do you really think that they’re withholding federal taxes and state taxes? Give me a break, there’s not a receipt.”

The state did not levy any penalties against Speak Easy.

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