1 year later, recreational cannabis sales bring in $300M

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – We just passed the one-year anniversary of the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Mexico. 

On Monday, the governor’s office published the annual sales numbers, and it’s looking good for the state’s bottom line, but what about all the dispensaries? 

“It’s been a little bit of a mix of some positive things and some not so positive things,” Verdes CFO Jon Updegraff said. 

While the state set a sales record in March of $32 million in sales just for recreational marijuana, we are also seeing more dispensaries popping up –all across the state. Especially in the metro, and that means more competition. 

“When we look at the statewide program the state is benefiting as was intended, they are getting their tax revenue and it’s working,” Updegraff said. 

According to the Cannabis Control Division, in total there were $300 million in adult-use sales—that amounts to more than $27 million in taxes for the state general fund. 

Throughout the year more businesses wanted a piece of the pie, or the bud in this case. 

“But when you go down to the individual business level, they are struggling a little bit because of this competition,” Updegraff said. 

There are 633 licensed dispensaries in the state. In the metro area, there are 157—Updegraff says that is more dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonald’s combined. 

“When you think of the competition in that sense it’s been very stiff,” Updegraff said. 

But stiff competition doesn’t automatically mean bad business—after April 1 last year Verdes saw a pretty big bump in sales. 

“On a monthly basis our revenue increased about $100,000 month over month once we added recreational customers,” Updegraff said. 

But they are having to come up with new ways to keep those customers coming back. 

“Last weekend for example we had a chef come in, and he cooked cannabis infused tacos. Now for the demo I don’t think it was infused, but that’s an experience for a customer. It’s something they can come see, do, feel, taste as opposed to just coming into the store and buying then leaving,” Updegraff said. 

Breaking down the numbers the sales tax total is just shy of what state analysts predicted, which was $30 million at the beginning of the year. 

If you combine recreational and medical sales over the last year, that’s more than $480 million from more than 10 million transactions.