New types of cannabis businesses coming to Albuquerque
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s recreational marijuana industry is booming. Cannabis businesses across the state brought in more than $300 million in revenue during the first full year of legal sales. However, with nearly 600 dispensaries already operating in the state, some business owners are looking at new ways to expand the industry.
KOB 4 toured two new, upcoming cannabis businesses that aren’t relying on the dispensary model.
CANNABIS COFFEE SHOP
Cannabis and coffee may sound like an unusual combo, but for the team behind Lazydaze, it’s the foundation of their business.
“From like an elevator pitch standpoint, we’re an Amsterdam-style café,” said CEO and Founder Hans Enriquez. “We want to be a place that you can enjoy a really, really good cup of coffee and have some cannabis too.”
The Austin, Texas-based company is still constructing its newest location near Eubank and Indian School. Company reps estimate they’ll need around four more weeks to put the finishing touches on the 1,500-square-foot coffee shop and adjoining dispensary. Officials predict they will set a grand opening date by the end of the month.
Renderings of the new location show it will include a long bar where customers can order coffee drinks and single-serve cannabis products – such as joints, pre-rolls, and gummies. Officials say it’s important the space feels like a coffee shop where customers can work or meet with friends while also enjoying cannabis products.
“It’s more of a sampling area,” said Samir Bhakta, president of franchising for Lazydaze. “Whatever you consume here has to be finished or tossed here. If you like something, you can go to our dispensary, buy that and then go home.”
Company officials say they’ve been working on the new location since September 2022. Enriquez admits navigating the city’s indoor consumption regulations has been challenging, but he understands this is uncharted territory.
“As they’re figuring out the regulations, we’re also figuring out how to create a successful business model within those regulations,” Enriquez said.
Bhakta suggests some of the most stringent requirements are focused on air purification systems. He says the HVAC system they plan to install inside the location is more than enough.
“It’s just gonna pull all the smoke up, repurify it, push it back down,” he said. “It’s actually might be cleaner than other coffee shops, because they’re not having any kind of filtration.”
Lazydaze already operates three locations in Texas – where recreational marijuana is not legal. Enriquez says those locations primarily serve hemp-based products. He says the company was eager to expand to a state where recreational marijuana is legal, but he admits they first looked at Colorado and Nevada.”
“We wanted to get into a market that had low startup costs and barriers of entry,” Enriquez said. “New Mexico being an emerging market – only being open to rec for the past year – we felt that this would be a great place for us to show a proof of concept for our Lazydaze brand.”
When it opens, the location will be one of the first cannabis consumption areas in Albuquerque. Enriquez says Lazydaze is open to beginners and longtime cannabis users; however, customers must be 21 years old to enter. Bhakta says they treat cannabis intoxication similar to bars and alcohol. Employees will have the right to cut off any customers who appear to be over-intoxicated.
“You can purchase cannabis anywhere, but you don’t have any place to legally safely and, you know, nice environment, you know, to consume,” Enriquez said. “We want to provide that.”
CANNABIS COUNTRY CLUB
Erica Rowland has ambitious plans for her five-acre farm in Albuquerque’s north valley.
“We want to be a place that is safe and sound,” Rowland said. “Our mission is to remove the stigma of cannabis while maintaining a family and farm wellness.”
Rowland is the visionary behind FarmFlourish – a cannabis wellness brand she is planning to transform into a so-called ‘cannabis country club.’
“We hope to have a swimming pool, we hope to have a rec center, and really a destination spot for the things that you want to see come to fruition,” she said. “Just a location that you’re gonna meet your friends, and you’re gonna use it as a reset.”
Right now, Rowland’s farm is home to a small shop, a few dozen farm animals, and a greenhouse where she grows hundreds of marijuana plants each year. Rowland does not have a retail license, so she partners with other cannabis businesses to process her marijuana crops into other products. Those products are often sent out in monthly wellness baskets to members which also include fresh eggs, pastries, and other locally-made products.
Rowland describes her farm as a “retreat of the mind in the middle of the city.” She envisions the space being used for private parties, public events, and really however members want to use it – including enjoying cannabis products.
Rowland says a big focus for her is destigmatizing cannabis use.
“I’ve been in the industry for eight years, and I’ve seen that it’s not just a dispensary,” she said. “People want to call this a gateway drug, and I call it a life preserver. It’s kept me on task. It’s given me a job. It’s given me a purpose. When I am providing medicine for people, there’s no better service, I see it in their face, and so that gives me the quest of moving forward.”
Rowland admits her quest has faced roadblocks. She says uneven cannabis regulations between state and local governments have been the biggest hurdle for her business.
“One hand doesn’t speak to the next, and then this hand wants a paper that this person this hand doesn’t even know it has or how to make that paper,” she said. “If you have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars thinking you can do manufacturing, for example, and your county says you can’t get a business license for that, I think it’s extremely risky.”
Rowland says she’s not backing down though, and she hopes her journey carves a path forward for other types of cannabis businesses.
“Cannabis faces a lot of adversity. It is harder to do anything that anybody else could do because of the business and I really want to change that. I really do,” she said. More information about FarmFlourish can be found here.