August 22, 2019

Businesses grow around NM medical cannabis producers

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As New Mexico lawmakers try to come up with a legislative proposal to legalize recreational cannabis that might ease the apprehension of some of their colleagues, there is already a group of business owners already laying the groundwork for a post-legalization world. 

Sometimes they’re called ancillary cannabis companies, other times they’re called cannabis adjacent businesses. Regardless of what they’re called, there is a network of New Mexico businesses that provide services to medical cannabis producers. Some of those businesses, which range from real estate to technology companies, have come up with innovative ways to help the medical cannabis industry, prepare for legalized cannabis and even break out into the non-cannabis industry. 

Jeff Holland and Siv Watkins are the partners behind 11Biomics, a company which specializes in protecting cannabis plants from powdery mildew. Holland, who is from Albuquerque, said the business got its start with a business incubator in California’s Bay Area. Despite offers to keep the company on the west coast, the company opted to bring its technology back to New Mexico to help medical cannabis growers and hopefully stimulate the economy. 

“We really want New Mexico to be the leader in this area,” Holland said. 

That area, specifically, is soil treatment to combat harmful plant diseases instead of spraying plants with pesticides. According to the company’s website, cannabis plants have been crossbred for so long, the plants’ natural ability to fight molds and mildews have weakened. So, 11Biomics uses microbes to boost plants’ natural ability to fight disease. 

“It’d be like transfusing your own blood and putting it back in yourself,” Holland said. 

Holland said since their treatment focuses on soil treatment through microbiology, it is not considered a pesticide. And since they never actually handle, transport or grow cannabis they’re not overseen by the state’s Medical Cannabis Program. 

“We’re not really a cannabis company, but we’re not really not a cannabis company,” he said. 

Holland said the goal is to not only branch out to other states with legalized medical and recreational cannabis, but also to branch out to other types of crops. 

Other businesses are coming up with innovative ways to help dispensaries with daily operations. 

The Albuquerque-based budboard markets itself as a “dispensary menu management system.” The company’s president and chief marketing officer Antonio Gandara-Martinez told NM Political Report that budboard launched after one of the four founding members became a medical cannabis patient and realized the need for a digital menu system that updates inventory in real time. One advantage to being an ancillary or adjacent business, Gandara-Martinez said, is being an arms-length away from the state’s Medical Cannabis Program. 

“Being a tech business that serves the cannabis industry, there’s very little to do to make sure we’re in compliance,” he said. 

Other businesses are taking a more traditional type of business and applying it to the medical cannabis industry. 

Real estate development company Geltmore, LLC has been in New Mexico for more than 30 years and now are developing properties for medical cannabis producers. One of the principals of the company, David Silverman, said the real estate and property development sectors have taken a hit since internet retailers like Amazon have “really started soaring like a rocket” and only businesses that were willing to adapt to the market are still surviving. Now, Silverman said, both medical and recreational cannabis are the new test of who can make it. 

“Just like anything the cannabis industry is a changing of the times,” Silverman said. “Are we going to stand back and not get out in front of it?” 

Silverman said Geltmore is ready for the inevitable legalization of cannabis.    

“We think that with everything that’s going to happen in the next three or five years that it will only better position us to experience some success and in turn the state will experience success,” Silverman said.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly described budboards as a point of sale company.