Hundreds of people vying to be a part of New Mexico’s newest legal industry gathered in downtown Albuquerque on Wednesday, a day after recreational-use cannabis became legal in the state.
Dozens of vendor booths that included marketing professionals, cultivation suppliers and cannabis educators attended the first day of the two-day Cannabis Legalization Conference.
Guest speakers at the conference included state regulators and current medical cannabis producers, but the keynote speaker was Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who called a special session earlier this year with the specific intention of passing a cannabis legalization bill. She then signed the bill into law after it was passed by the Legislature.
Lujan Grisham told a crowd of industry hopefuls that she wants to see a cannabis industry that rivals those in nearby states.
“Here’s what every governor wants, me included: I want you to knock the socks off this industry and make sure just like green chile, states like Colorado, keep pointing to New Mexico and say, the best cannabis industry in the country is in New Mexico,” Lujan Grisham said. “That’s what I expect. I’ve already gotten ready to purchase the billboards in Colorado so that I can poke a little productive, competitive fun at [Colorado] Governor [Jared] Polis, who you should know is a champion, and very good colleague and friend of mine, but that’s what good governors do.”
Lujan Grisham also spoke about the special session in which cannabis legalization passed and recalled that she didn’t want lawmakers to finish until cannabis legalization passed and made it to her desk. She praised the work of lawmakers and regulators for their work in getting it passed, but she also took a moment to encourage cannabis entrepreneurs to take the proverbial baton.
“The government is cumbersome, complicated, not very flexible,” Lujan Grisham said. “You can create an opportunity where we’re not like that in any context, that we just lean in and meet the needs so that you’re a successful entrepreneur. That’s what I need. I need you to have an industry where the entire world says, ‘Have you heard about New Mexico? My God, it’s not green and red anymore, it’s just green and green. They have the best cannabis.’”
You can watch the livestream of her speech below, courtesy of New Mexico PBS and Growing Forward, the collaborative podcast between New Mexico PBS and NM Political Report.