New Mexico suggests raising cannabis plant counts for growers

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Cannabis cultivators in New Mexico could soon be jumping for joy or sighing with disappointment, with the newly-established Cannabis Control Division set to either approve or reject a proposal that would increase plant counts.

The proposed rules for New Mexico’s looming recreational cannabis program stipulate that cultivators can grow a maximum of 4,500 plants at one time. However, regulators suggest increasing the state’s plant count to 8,000.

Based on details of the plan, statewide cannabis cultivators could apply to grow an additional 500 plants at a time. Santa Fe New Mexican reporters claim that, if the proposal is accepted, cultivation would be limited at 10,000 plants.

A deadline of September 1 has been set by New Mexico regulators for cultivators. Currently, the draft regulations for cannabis retailers, manufacturers and testing labs have not been made public.

Proposal to increase cannabis plant count limit in New Mexico emerges in response to concerns

Industry insiders have grown increasingly concerned about New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis supply which, they say, is likely insufficient to meet demand once the market launches in early 2022. These concerns have stimulated efforts to boost existing cannabis plant count limits. 

According to estimates from Cannabis Public Policy Consulting in Massachusetts, the State of New Mexico will require 2,007-3,756 plants per producer during the first year of legal sales. 

A branch of the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, the Cannabis Control Division, has initiated a $10-per-plant fee for all cannabis producers. The first draft of the rules required producers to fork out $22 per plant.

Big-scale cannabis producers must continue to pay a $2,500 annual operational fee, whereas microbusinesses must pay an annual fee of $500 or $1,000; contingent on plant count.

An overview of New Mexico’s legal cannabis market

As of June 29, New Mexicans have been legally allowed to possess and cultivate recreational cannabis. The milestone moment was applauded by cannabis lobbyists across the state, as well as criminal justice reform advocates who claim that, prior to legalization, low-income and minority communities were unfairly punished for using the green plant.

Adult-use legalization in New Mexico occurred after numerous cannabis reform efforts failed in the Democratic-led Legislature. One month before Governor Lujan Grisham signed the law into effect this past April, she held a special legislative session focused on cannabis reform. 

“We are proactively stopping the disproportionate criminalization of people of color for cannabis possession, and we are building a new industry,” she said in a news release.

Based on New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis law, residents can legally possess a maximum of 800 milligrams of edibles, 16 grams of cannabis extract and two ounces of cannabis outside their private residence.

On the day of the bill’s passing, Grisham described the milestone as “a huge step forward both for social justice and economic development in our state.”