New Mexico cannabis regulators are one step closer to opening the proverbial floodgates for those who plan to apply for a cannabis cultivation license.
The state’s Regulation and Licensing Department and its Cannabis Control Division announced on Tuesday that the department finalized rules and regulations for cannabis cultivation as well as a social and economic equity plan and plans for addressing possible cannabis shortages.
The department also announced that it would start accepting cultivation applications several days ahead of the statutory deadline of Sept. 1.
In a statement on Tuesday, RLD Superintendent Linda Trujillo said the rules “reflect the unique needs and perspectives of New Mexico residents, businesses, entrepreneurs and communities.”
“We are ready for business,” Trujillo said. “The Cannabis Control Division is committed to supporting licensees to maximize the economic opportunities that adult-use cannabis sales offer our state.”
The new rules create four different levels of cultivation licenses, based on the number of plants that a producer plans on growing. At the highest level, producers can have up to 8,000 flowering plants, but an unlimited number of immature plants. The rules seem to create a path for exceptions to the 8,000 plant rule, but also state that no cultivator may have more than 10,000 plants.
The finalized rules also set a goal for the Cannabis Control Division to ensure that “at least 50 percent of applicants for licensure, licenses, and cannabis industry employees” represent groups and communities that have historically been negatively impacted by previous drug laws.
For years, medical cannabis patient advocacy groups have raised concerns about the state’s Medical Cannabis Program taking a back seat to the new adult-use program. The newly finalized rules address those concerns by requiring producers to set aside at least 25 percent of their crops for medical cannabis patients or for another cannabis business that meets or exceeds the 25 percent requirement.
RLD and its Cannabis Control Division have not yet proposed rules and regulations for other parts of the industry like testing, consumption areas and retail sales. The department, by state law, has to finalize those rules by January 1, 2022.