Two Pueblos ink a deal to start selling legal cannabis in New Mexico

On Friday, March 25, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico publicly confirmed an “historic” intergovernmental deal with two pueblos. The agreement will enable the sovereign nations to participate in New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis industry. 

Based on official statement from the governor’s office, the Chiefs of the Picuris and Pojoaque pueblos both inked a pact with the state that will “support the pueblos taking part in the recreational cannabis industry, driving economic development and setting guidelines for the safe production and sale of cannabis while preventing federal enforcement on their tribal lands.”

Although the consumption, home cultivation and possession of recreational cannabis was legalized across the state of New Mexico in 2021, sales have not yet begun. Nonetheless, they are expected to begin imminently.

Based on an update that was issued by state regulators, adult-use cannabis sales in New Mexico are expected to begin on April 1… so long as everything goes according to plan.

However, the Cannabis Regulation Act features a provision that enables state and tribal governments to sign agreements like the one mentioned in this post.

“These agreements not only formalize pro-tribal policies, such as a state duty to consult and incorporate tribal concepts and policies related to cannabis, but also are the only [intergovernmental agreements] in the nation that provide for ongoing meetings and consultations between state and tribe,” read the announcement from Gov. Grisham’s office.

Will the Pueblos’ deal to sell legal cannabis in New Mexico deter federal interference?

This isn’t the first time that the Picuris Pueblo has attempted to launch its own medical cannabis program. 

The pueblo tried to do so after New Mexico legalized cannabis for medical purposes via a bill signed by Governor Bill Richardson in 2007. 

Unfortunately, the federal government decided to close the program. Since this time, attempts to permit the launch of medical cannabis programs by tribal governments have been far and few.

The recent agreement was applauded by Picuris Governor Craig Quanchello. He feels that it reflects the Pueblo’s sovereignty, while enabling the two governments to form a partnership.

“This creates a meaningful opportunity for the Pueblo to engage in well-regulated and coordinated legal cannabis markets for the benefit and protection of our community, including a framework for ongoing collaboration with the State to protect our shared interests,” Quanchello is quoted as saying in a statement.

His enthusiasm was shared by Pojoaque Governor Jenelle Roybal, who described cannabis asan exciting new opportunity to diversify our economic development.”

These insights suggest that revenues earned through a Pueblo cannabis enterprise may be ample for supporting tribal governmental programs and nearby communities.

New Mexico’s future looks bright, thanks to legal cannabis

New Mexico’s adult-use launch comes one year after state lawmakers passed a recreational legalization bill – the “Cannabis Regulation Act

It gained the legislature’s approval on March 31, 2021 during a special session proposed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

All of New Mexico’s licensed businesses can legally start sales on April 1. However, the vast majority of producers and retailers are still in the process of constructing their facilities or obtaining municipal approvals.

Sales forecasts from Statista indicate that the market will accrue a value of approximately $108.4 million in New Mexico by the year 2025.