New Mexico recreational cannabis sales pass $1.8M

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — It’s high time in New Mexico as recreational adult-use cannabis sales officially became legal Friday.

Sales began almost immediately at dispensaries in Las Cruces at 12:01 a.m. In Santa Fe, sales began at 7 a.m. – around three hours before sales began in Albuquerque and an hour before sales began in Grants and Las Vegas.

As of 8 p.m. Friday, there have been 27,981 adult-use recreational cannabis transactions statewide, generating $1,882,928.45 in sales. That number doesn’t include medical sales.

Dispensaries have been gearing up for the day by getting a variety of products ready and sifting through an abundance of job applications, with as many as 200-300 applicants vying for some positions. According to the City of Albuquerque’s map, 69 cannabis retail locations were approved as of April 1.

"I think it’s about time. I know many people who have gone to jail for the cause of cannabis legalization, people in the early California medical marijuana have been involved in policy reform for two decades now and there are just too many people in jail, so this is a great first step," one person told KOB 4.

As New Mexico kicks off sales, Albuquerque police are warning that, just as you shouldn’t drive while drunk, you shouldn’t drive while high. Authorities are being trained to detect high drivers to try and prevent an uptick of people driving under the influence of cannabis.

The Cannabis Control Division of the Regulation and Licensing Department has provided important guidance to consumers in order to safely participate in this new market:

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I smoke cannabis in public? No. Smoking cannabis in public is prohibited by the Cannabis Regulation Act and is punishable with a citation and a fine up to $50. Public consumption of any kind, including edibles, is prohibited.
  • Where can I smoke cannabis? The best place for New Mexicans to smoke or consume cannabis is at their home or another private residence.
  • What about a park? Parks, as public spaces, are also not places to smoke. Consumers should be even more careful on federal lands as even the possession of cannabis is illegal at the federal level and those laws are federally enforced.
  • How much cannabis can I buy? Eligible recreational users can buy up to the legal possession limit at one time – that’s two ounces of cannabis, 16 g of concentrate and 800 mg of edibles. There is no monthly or weekly limit. Medical patients can purchase up to 15 ounces every 90 days.
  • Can I have cannabis with me when I’m in public? Is it OK to keep in my purse or in my car? Adults 21 and over can legally possess up to two ounces of cannabis, 16 g of concentrate and 800 mg of edibles. Any more than the above levels must be stored in a private residence, out of public view. If cannabis products are in your car, remember that you may not consume cannabis and operate a motor vehicle.
  • Can employers ban my use of cannabis? Yes. Workplaces set their own rules based on the needs of their workplace. Be sure to check your employer’s rules for cannabis consumption prior to consuming.
  • Will cannabis be available for sale in all New Mexico counties? Not necessarily. While adult-use cannabis sales are legal from licensed retailers in every county, not every county will have a licensed retailer. The Cannabis Control Division recommends doing a quick online search to find retailers near you.
  • Can my city or town ban adult-use cannabis facilities? No. Local communities can place reasonable time, place and manner restrictions on cannabis businesses to reflect community needs and values. However, a local community cannot outright ban cannabis businesses. The only exception to this is consumption areas. Local jurisdictions can opt out of allowing consumption areas, if that is the right decision for them.

To date, 151 retail licenses have been issued by the state, covering nearly 250 locations. However, not all locations will be open Friday. The CCD encourages consumers to do their research online and find a retailer near them that is open for business.

The CCD also advises anyone buying cannabis to consume responsibly.

“Start low and go slow,” said Cannabis Control Division Director Kristen Thomson – referring to starting with a product that has a low level of THC and only slowly increasing consumption once someone has a sense how their body is responding. “Even more importantly, though, New Mexicans must remember not to drive after consuming cannabis. Driving under the influence puts consumers and others on the road at risk. Law enforcement will be doing their job to keep roads safe. We encourage anyone who plans to consume to have a designated driver or use a taxi or ride-share service.”

The Cannabis Regulation Act, passed by the Legislature and signed by the governor last year, called for sales of adult-use cannabis to begin no later than April 1.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has said the new industry is projected to generate $300 million annually in sales, create 11,000 jobs and bring in $50 million in state revenue in the first year alone. Others have guessed even higher, but the latest projections from the Legislative Finance Committee are a bit lower – $28 million for the first year. That report notes, "revenue expectations remain uncertain."

For more information on cannabis rules and regulations, click here.