New Mexico recreational cannabis licensing attracts 1,500-plus applicants

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

New Mexico’s recreational cannabis licensing process is officially open. With an unlimited number of licenses on offer, it’s not surprising that the state has already received in excess of 1,500 applications.

Based on a report published by Albuquerque TV station KRQE, the vast majority of license applications were for “microbusiness” permits. 

Permits of this kind enable licensees to cultivate a maximum of 200 cannabis plants for New Mexico’s looming adult-use cannabis market.

Conversely, full producers will have the opportunity to grow a maximum of 8,000 cannabis plants for recreational use and sale.

It’s important to note that licenses may also feature a retail element. However, New Mexico’s cannabis producer licenses demand that the holder conducts cultivation (to some level) along with different business functions.

“If a million New Mexicans want to get a license, we would license a million people,” said the deputy superintendent of the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department, John Blair, during an interview with KRQE reporters.

About New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis law

On Monday, April 12, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed a bill that effectively legalized adult-use cannabis in New Mexico. Retail sales are expected to launch no later than April 1, 2022. 

The law mirrors a nationwide trend to prioritize social equity and small-scale businesses. It was during a two-day special session of the Legislature that lawmakers approved the bill. Grisham urged lawmakers to hold the special session after failed attempts to legalize cannabis during the regular session.

Once the market is in full effect, New Mexico will be acknowledged as one of the free-market U.S. cannabis states. Some other prime examples include California, Colorado, Oklahoma and Oregon. Currently, according to regulators, there is no limit to the number of business permits that can be issued.

Projections for New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis market are promising

Sales forecasts published in the 2021 edition of Marijuana Business Factbook project that New Mexico’s recreational cannabis market will attract $150 million in sales revenue during its initial year of operation. 

By the fourth year of operation, analysts feel confident that the market will comfortably generate $425 million on an annual basis. 

Tax revenue is also expected to be quite impressive. A 12 percent excise tax will be imposed on all retail sales of cannabis products sold throughout the State of New Mexico, in addition to local and state sales taxes ranging five percent to nine percent. 

As time progresses, the excise tax could be increased to 18 percent, say regulators, who foresee big things for New Mexico’s recreational cannabis market.