April 4, 2022

Growing Forward: First day of adult-use sales

Bill Moree

A worker prepares for the midnight sale of legal recreational-use cannabis in Las Cruces.

As expected, many cannabis dispensaries around New Mexico saw lines out the door and one company kicked off the first day of recreational-use cannabis sales at midnight. Customers in New Mexico made more than $5 million in cannabis sales, either medical- or recreational-use, during the first weekend of legal adult-use sales, according to state regulators. 

Growing Forward, the collaborative cannabis podcast between NM Political Report and New Mexico PBS was in the field on opening day to talk with both dispensary operators and new customers about what legalization means to them. 

To mark the occasion, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham visited Everest Apothecary in Albuquerque. Lujan Grisham greeted the dozens of people in line and later spoke with reporters about the historical day. 

“This is what New Mexicans said they wanted,” Lujan Grisham told reporters. “They said they wanted it well before I was running.”

The dispensaries that opened their doors to adult-use cannabis customers were largely legacy cannabis producers that have been licensed by the state’s Medical Cannabis Program for nearly a decade or longer. But one newly licensed business, Carver Family Farm, was able to cultivate enough cannabis to open its doors on April 1.   

Andrew Brown, Carver Family Farm’s co-owner and chief cultivation officer, told Growing Forward that his company is doing fine under the state’s requirement that microbusinesses like his have no more than 200 mature plants. But, Brown said, a provision in the law has made it impossible for businesses like Carver Family Farm products wholesale from other, larger businesses. 

“We’re under our numbers, so we’re not too worried about the plant count,” Brown said. “It’s just kind of offensive in a capitalistic society that we can’t purchase wholesale.”

Some New Mexico cannabis producers have expressed concern that there may be medical cannabis shortages as a result of increased recreational-use sales. And many dispensary operators who spoke with Growing Forward said that the cannabis wholesale market in New Mexico is essentially non-existent because many producers are holding on to their supply until it’s more clear what the real demand will be. 

Robert Jackson, the executive director of Seven Point Farms, a cannabis company that opened its first Albuquerque dispensary on April 1, said the first day of adult-use sales was “wild,” but that his company has been preparing it. 

“We are fortunate to be an established cultivator and we really focused on cultivation, so we feel fairly comfortable that we’ll be able to weather a largish storm of shortages if that happens,” Jackson said. 

But, Jackson said, his phone had been “ringing off the hook” from potential cannabis retailers looking for something to sell.  

“There are a lot of people that put a lot of money into opening these shops and they don’t have product,” Jackson said.  

New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Deputy Superintendent Victor Reyes told Growing Forward that the first day of sales was a success. 

What we’re seeing is that New Mexicans are coming out to support New Mexico businesses, and there’s a lot of excitement out there,” Reyes said. “We are really grateful for the partnership that we’ve had with industry members, with businesses in both the lead up and in the rollout today.”

Revenue from the state’s cannabis excise tax is expected to generate about $50 million in state revenue. 

Listen to the entire episode of Growing Forward below.