New Mexico Governor Tense as Border Patrol’s Cannabis Crackdown Surges

New Mexico’s Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is at odds with President Joe Biden over issues at the southern border with Mexico.

The issue at hand, though, is not with illegal immigrants but rather with officers in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection seizing legal cannabis.

Over the last two months, Politico reports that CBP officers have seized in excess of $300,000 worth of cannabis that’s state-licensed in New Mexico. The seizures have happened at checkpoints for border patrol, with some being as far as 80 miles from the border.

This crackdown has created massive tensions between the New Mexico governor and the Biden administration. Lujan Grisham championed legalized marijuana as a huge boon economically for her state.

All this is happening, too, as the Department of Justice is about to loosen federal restrictions on marijuana. If that happens, it’ll be the largest liberalization of drug policies in more than 50 years.

The New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce’s executive director, Ben Lewinger, recently commented on the situation:

“It doesn’t feel like this really has anything to do with what their role is. They’re supposed to detain people entering the country illegally, and then detain narcotics and other dangerous items also entering the country illegally.”

The seizures in New Mexico have marked a big change from what federal policy has been for a while now. Federal law enforcement officials largely have stayed away from enforcing federal marijuana laws in the 38 states that have legalized either recreational or medical cannabis possession — even though it conflicts with federal law.

As a result of this situation, cannabis producers and growers who are located south of the border checkpoints now are trying to figure out how they can move their legal products to the northern part of the state. One potential solution is moving operations to Albuquerque, the largest city in the state.

Lujan Grisham spoke on the phone with a senior official in the Biden administration recently, saying the response that Alejandro Mayorkas, the secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, has made to this crackdown is “inappropriate.”

Audio of the call was recorded by a third party and then posted to the social media platform X. Lujan Grisham’s office confirmed that the recording was authentic, but they wouldn’t confirm the administration official with whom she was speaking.

On the call, the governor is heard saying to the administration official:

“Either you have to adjust it or I have to send you a letter saying you’re persecuting the states, you are not using your discretion, you’re not working with me on immigration. And I don’t want to send that letter, but I’m boxed in.”

A CBP spokesperson said that even though that some states have legalized marijuana, because it’s still illegal according to federal law, “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.”