March 23, 2022

Growing Forward launches fourth season

Growing Forward, the collaborative cannabis podcast between NM Political Report and New Mexico PBS, launched its fourth season on Tuesday. 

With the first legal adult-use sales slated to begin on April 1, Growing Forward checked in with Kristen Thomson, the state’s Cannabis Control Division director, about a failed cannabis bill and what it means for the state’s cannabis industry.  

SB 100 would have increased production limits for smaller cannabis companies as well as allowed those businesses to sell products grown by larger production companies. The bill also aimed to clean up language in the Cannabis Regulation Act to allow legacy cannabis producers to switch their tax status from non-profit to for-profit. Up until last year, the state’s Department of Health, which oversees the Medical Cannabis Program, required medical cannabis producers to register as non-profit companies.

“It’s certainly unfortunate that the statute was not amended during the session, but the Cannabis Control Division remains as committed as we ever have been in supporting small local entrepreneurs starting out in the industry,” Thomson said. 

But as far as businesses switching their status, Thomson said they will have to wait until the next legislative session to possibly get that chance. 

At the end of this year’s 30-day legislative session, one cannabis microbusiness told NM Political Report that there was an incentive to switch license types in order to grow more cannabis. Thomson told Growing Forward that the division plans on working out a way for those microbusinesses to change their business classification without having to go through the entire licensing process again. 

“The intent is not to make anybody go through the whole application process again,” Thomson said. 

But, she added, the Cannabis Control Division has to ensure the process is done in a way that can be tracked for auditing purposes.      

Part of the impetus of SB 100 was to create parity between larger producers with production limits regulated by rules and regulations and microbusinesses with production limits written into law. As a way to combat expected medical cannabis shortages when recreational-use sales start next week, the Cannabis Control Division approved a temporary plant increase for larger producers. Now, micro-producers are still limited to 200 plants, whereas larger producers are able to grow up to 20,000 plants. 

Thomson said that while the temporary increase was aimed at avoiding longer-term shortages, it was not intended to specifically address the first day of sales. 

“We have seen a number of producers that have the ability to expand quickly, put more plants in the ground,” Thomson said. “Obviously, the harvest on those does not happen immediately. It is a plant. And the intent of the increase was not targeted at April 1, but making sure that there was adequate supply in the days and months to come.”

The latest episode of Growing Forward also featured Dr. Riley Kirk, a natural medicine and cannabis expert. 

You can hear more from Thomson about cannabis regulations in New Mexico and from Kirk about the science of cannabis below.