Q1 2020 cannabis sales in New Mexico were 43 percent higher than Q1 2019

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Amid the turmoil caused by coronavirus (COVID-19), this year’s first quarter medical cannabis sales in New Mexico have climbed 43 percent since Q1 2019. Ultra Health – the largest-vertically integrated medical cannabis provider in the United States – published an industry report confirming that $40.1 million was earned through 34 of the state’s licensed dispensaries during Q1 2020. 

This is a stark contrast to the $12 million that was pulled in from medical cannabis sales in New Mexico for Q1 2019. While market maturance has likely swayed consumer purchasing behavior, it’s interesting that these revenue results have emerged during a global pandemic in which social distancing has become compulsory.

The state’s leading 10 cannabis companies constituted 71 percent of all patient medical cannabis sales in New Mexico for Q1. Of all the legal dispensaries that are actively serving medical cannabis patients statewide, Ultra Health – the leading dispensary operator in New Mexico – paved the way as it harvested $6.1 million in revenue during the first three months of 2020. In March, Ultra Health also became the first U.S. cannabis company to export cannabis to Israel

Increased demand for New Mexico’s medical cannabis program puts pressure on suppliers

Although increased sales revenue is welcomed by New Mexico’s medical cannabis program, an influx of buyers means less stock. By the end of March, Ultra Health was reportedly clinging on to just 5,714 pounds of cannabis in stock. According to CEO Duke Rodriguez, this is sufficient to supply patients statewide for just 11 days.

“Furthermore, there were only 28 grams of cannabis available per patient at the end of the first quarter of 2020, while there were 77 grams available per patient at the end of the fourth quarter of 2019,” the report says. “This represents a 64 percent decrease of accessible medicine per patient.”

Increased demand could put patients in a vulnerable position. Currently, around 90,000 people have registered to receive pharmaceutical-grade cannabis medicines from state-licensed dispensaries in New Mexico, where the plant was legalized for medicinal purposes way back in April 2007. The report notes how there were 85,168 patients enrolled in the program by the end of March — a 20 percent rise in enrollment since March 2018. Rodriguez believes that the COVID-19 pandemic might have sparked interest in the state’s program.

“Robust activity during a period of high uncertainty is a testament to the essentialness of cannabis. Going forward, the new normal will create a far greater demand on the medical necessity, product availability and patient affordability of quality cannabis care,” said Rodriguez.

Governor thinks cannabis legalization in New Mexico could aid economic recovery

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has a theory that she believes could help New Mexico’s recovery from any losses caused by COVID-19 — recreational cannabis legalization. During mid-May, Gov. Grisham urged lawmakers to broaden their views on cannabis policy reform in New Mexico; she stressed the potential economic benefits of legalizing the plant for adult-use purposes in the aftermath of a lingering virus outbreak.

She expressed her opinion after being asked by the viewers of a two-hour online livestream session if she wanted the Legislature to pass a measure for adult-use cannabis legalization in New Mexico. Viewers questioned Grisham towards the end of the livestream on the basis of adult-use legalization helping to sidestep financial pitfalls and increase tax revenue.

“The projections are nearly $100 million of recurring revenue into the budget” she responded. “If we want economic support and economic relief, then we have to use every economic idea. And I want to point out also that the vast majority of New Mexicans favor recreational cannabis.”