August 3, 2021

Growing Forward: New Mexico’s Green Rush Part 2

About a month after New Mexico legalized cannabis use and possession, and about eight months until sanctioned sales are expected to start, there is little doubt that many New Mexican’s are eager to get a foothold in the state’s newest industry. 

The state’s Regulation and Licensing Department is still in the process of finalizing rules and regulations for cultivation licenses and is expected to impose further rules for testing standards, retail sales and consumption areas. But that hasn’t stopped some from preliminarily looking for warehouses or land to grow cannabis. Others looking to get into the cannabis industry have begun consulting businesses. 

Growing Forward, the collaborative podcast between New Mexico PBS and NM Political Report that looks at cannabis in New Mexico, spoke with several people hoping to get into the new industry earlier, rather than later.

The day after the state’s Cannabis Regulation Act became official, P2M, a cannabis business consulting firm, hosted a legalization conference in Albuquerque. 

The company is made up of Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis, Matt Kennicott, who previously worked for former Gov. Susana Martinez and Patricia Mattioli, who has worked as a consultant for medical cannabis companies. 

Mattioli said there are numerous other parts of the cannabis industry that often go overlooked and that don’t need extra certification from RLD’s Cannabis Control Division.  

“You’ve got accountants, you’ve got insurance, you’ve got training,” Mattioli said. “So, the job creation that’ll go on for the next 10 years is huge. We’re looking at possibly 11,000 jobs a year in this industry, in the state of New Mexico.”

Meanwhile, RLD and its Cannabis Control Division are working through a tight deadline to impose rules and regulations before retail sales start next year. RLD Superintendent Linda Trujillo said because the department’s deadlines for setting up the new non-medical program are written into law, regulators have to prioritize each piece of the rollout. 

“What we are doing and what we’re trying to do, is to be realistic and to prioritize the things that are the most important, focus all of our attention on those, [00:20:54.72] get as much input as we can from those who are already in the business and try to roll that into the rules that we have to adopt,” Trujillo said.

But as cannabis industry hopefuls await for more updates, law enforcement and prosecutors are already changing their operating procedures to fit the new Cannabis Regulation Act. For example, law enforcement officers will still be on the look-out for intoxicated drivers but they can no longer use the odor of cannabis as reasonable suspicion to search a vehicle. 

Dianna Luce, the state’s fifth judicial district attorney and president of the New Mexico District Attorney Association, said the new standards set out by the Cannabis Regulation Act will have a lasting impact on how officers enforce current drug laws. 

“I think it’s going to be a complete shift for law enforcement on how they investigate other drug crimes,” Luce said. 

Listen to the entire episode of Growing Forward below.