Legal Weed In New Mexico Boosts Economy

Legal weed in New Mexico is very quickly demonstrating the benefits of a legal cannabis market

by Dessy Pavlova · June 29, 2022

New Mexico - Top Tree

Recreational cannabis has been legal in New Mexico only since March 31st, 2022, but has already become a significant economic enterprise for the state. Recreational cannabis will bring in an estimated $300 million in annual sales while creating 11,000 new jobs and garnering $50 million in state revenue in the first year alone. Monthly sales are expected to grow as selling permits continue to be approved, similar to other states across the country.

These numbers, add to the impressive data from other states that have legalized, prove that ending prohibition not only remedies the social wounds it inflicted but rapidly creates a lucrative new revenue stream for the state that legalizes.

Benefits of Legal Weed in New Mexico

The Cannabis Regulation Act, signed into law in July 2022 by New Mexico Governor Michelle Grisham, provides a framework for the statewide distribution and sale of recreational cannabis, which became legal as of April 1, 2022. The Act allows the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department to control the market from cultivation to consumer, including quality control, testing, inspection, packaging, labeling, and marketing of recreational cannabis. The medicinal use of cannabis was legalized in 2007 through the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.

As is the case with other states that have legalized or are considering or drafting legislation to do so, legalizing recreational cannabis is an effort to both respond to growing public support for the plant and to keep growers, dispensaries, and consumers safe from the risks associated with the illegal market.

Cannabis Laws in New Mexico

Much like the laws around Alcohol and Tobacco, cannabis users must be 21 or older to legally purchase and consume recreational cannabis. It is illegal to purchase for, give, or sell to anyone under 21 years of age. Cultivators can grow 6 mature plants and 6 seedlings, for a total of 12 plants per household at a time. Consumers cannot purchase or carry more than two ounces of cannabis, 16 grams of cannabis extract, and 800 milligrams of edible cannabis at one time, but there is no limit on how much individuals can store at their residence.

The state will allow individual jurisdictions to control the rules surrounding the use and sale of recreational cannabis, including the limitations surrounding the number of available seller permits and minimum distance from schools and daycares.

All of these new regulations are aimed at putting a dent in the black market and alleviating some of the harms caused by the decade-long drug war, including but not limited to the disparity in drug-related arrests between whites and people of color. New tax revenue from a legal cannabis industry can be quickly re-invested in areas that need it most, as has been seen in other states that have already legalized.

Legal Cannabis Sales in New Mexico

After just one month of legalization, recreational cannabis garnered over $22 million in sales across the state, with Albuquerque being the top seller at over $8 million. Las Cruces sold over $2 million and Santa Fe sold a bit over $1.8 million, while smaller jurisdictions like Madrid ($40,000), Cedar Crest ($56,000), Hobbs, and Sunland Park (both $1 million) also cashed in.

To apply for a permit, prospective retailers can visit New Mexico’s Regulation and Licensing Department official website.

These numbers are evidence that a brand-new regulated cannabis industry can still compete with an entrenched illicit market and generate much-needed tax revenue and are yet another reason why public support for legalizing cannabis continues to grow in states across the country.