As New Mexico prepares for its new recreational-use cannabis industry, two cannabis producers are warning of an impending crisis if state regulators do not lift a moratorium on expanding existing medical cannabis production.
After the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department and its Cannabis Control Division announced a halt on approval of new facilities until further rules are finalized, two legacy producers, who rarely see eye to eye on regulations, said they are both worried about supply when adult-use sales begin next year.
Earlier this year, Nicole Bazzano, the acting deputy director of business operations for the Cannabis Control Division, sent a letter to medical cannabis producers informing them that any new production facilities would have to wait until after September.
“The [Cannabis Regulation Act] prohibits the [Cannabis Control Division] from accepting any new applications on or after June 29, 2021, for additional premises until related rules have been finalized,” Bazzano wrote. “As such, the [Cannabis Control Division] will not be processing applications for additional premises submitted June 29, 2021 or later, until rules for the corresponding license types are finalized.”
Duke Rodriguez, who is the president and CEO of prominent cannabis company Ultra Health, said that a pause on increasing production facilities will only worsen shortages he has been warning of for years.
“We’re going to have a crisis,” Rodriguez said. “Mathematically we cannot avoid it.”
Rodriguez has long said that New Mexico, particularly in rural areas, was already experiencing cannabis supply shortages because of rules and regulations that cap the number of plants for cultivators.
Rodriguez said the data his company has compiled shows that New Mexico could run out of cannabis completely just several days after recreational-use sales begin. He said allowing medical cannabis producers to expand operations as a way of bolstering supply is only part of the solution and that it may be too late to completely avoid a crisis. That’s partly, he said, because the New Mexico Department of Health’s Medical Cannabis Program capped production to 450 plants per producer for years.