‘Really inappropriate’: leaked audio reveals governor’s anger over federal pot seizures

new mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham pot seizures

The Biden camp has continued to tout its stance on cannabis reform as of late, arguing against incarceration for possession and reminding constituents of a 2022 initiative to review the plant’s Schedule I status. But if you ask New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham about the current administration’s actions on weed, you’d get a response that’s less than enthusiastic.

According to reports, U.S. Border Patrol agents in New Mexico have confiscated hundreds of thousands of dollars in state-regulated cannabis products and accessories in recent weeks. The seizures are happening at highway checkpoints up to 80 miles north of the border with Mexico, with some transport drivers detained for hours at a time.

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Managers of ten licensed cannabis companies sent a letter to New Mexico’s Congressional members urging them to take action, according to the Associated Press.

“We request that operators who have had product federally seized should be allowed to either get their product returned or be monetarily compensated for the losses they’ve sustained,” the letter said.

Leaked audio from a call between Gov. Lujan Grisham and an unconfirmed high-ranking federal official, the Democrat said she was “offended” by the government’s response and feeling “boxed in” by the seizures.

“The secretary said to me, just so you know: ‘Who cares? They make a lot of money,’” Lujan Grisham said in the tape, referring to New Mexico’s cannabis operators. “I thought that was really inappropriate.”

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The governor expressed frustration at the growing number of seizures, which the Dept. of Homeland Security claims is within their right as they fight fentanyl trafficking. Lujan Grisham urged the official to stop the detainments, citing pressures from New Mexico operators who call her current response “feckless.”

“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,” Lujan Grisham said in the tape. “And I don’t want to send that letter, but I’m boxed in.”

Fellow border states California and Arizona have not seen a spike in seizures, with the issue seemingly isolated to New Mexico. According to Marijuana Moment, a senior Biden official reportedly told Lujan Grisham that “federal policies with respect to legalized cannabis have not changed.”

While the Biden administration may be campaigning heavily on a pro-reform platform, the actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security seem to send mixed messages. It’s unclear whether the licensed operators will have their property returned or if the situation is yet another roadblock to success for the fledgling industry.


rachelle gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist, Emerald Cup judge, Budist critic, and editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter