How To Open A Dispensary In New Mexico

Overview

Are you wondering how to open a dispensary in New Mexico? This page is dedicated to keeping you up to date on the latest news and information relevant to opening a cannabis dispensary business in the state. This includes helpful insights on what is next to come for the industry there.

At a special meeting on March 31, 2021, the New Mexico House and Senate passed a bill to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults over 21. When the bill was signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 12, it became law. Possession of up to two ounces of cannabis and cultivation of up to six mature plants by adults is now legal. 

On December 28, 2021, the Cannabis Control Division of the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department, which is in charge of making sure that the rules and regulations for the marijuana business are followed, released final rules for retailers, manufacturers, and couriers.

April 1, 2022, marks the first day of adult-use cannabis sales in New Mexico. Figures from the Cannabis Control Division show that adult-use cannabis sales had hit $475,000 by midday and had surpassed $1 million before 4:00 pm.

The Opportunity Size

Economist Kelly O’Donnell currently estimates that the market for legal marijuana in New Mexico will grow from approximately $342 million in the first year after the new law is implemented to approximately $1 billion by 2026. The figures represent a total demand for cannabis ranging between 34.19 and 177.22 metric tons.

Local Cannabis Restrictions & Laws

A county, city, or municipality will not be able to opt-out of recreational marijuana sales in New Mexico. Under HB 2, the Cannabis Regulation Act, it is not possible for local governments to completely prohibit cannabis companies, as has been done in certain other states. 

The number of stores and their distance from schools, daycares, and other cannabis companies may be limited by municipalities, which can utilize their local zoning power to accomplish this. For example, recreational cannabis cannot be sold within 300 feet of a school or childcare facility, and stores must be at least 600 feet away from one another in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Medical Marijuana

Senate Bill 523, also known as the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act, was passed in 2007 and made medical marijuana legal in the state. Gov. Bill Richardson signed the legislation on April 2nd, 2007, and it became effective on July 1st, 2007.

Under the legislation, patients and their caregivers were permitted to possess up to six ounces of usable cannabis jointly and, after acquiring a separate authorization, produce up to four mature plants and twelve seedlings of cannabis. 

Cannabis can be used to treat certain medical ailments, including HIV/AIDS, cancer, glaucoma, and 25 other qualifying conditions with a physician’s recommendation. As of January 2022, there are 130,345 patients enrolled in the Medical Cannabis Program who are currently active.

Up to 35 vertically integrated enterprises were permitted to cultivate, process, and sell cannabis products. Though they may operate as many dispensaries as they desired, until 2015, their total plant and seedling count was limited to 150. From 2015 to 2020, the cannabis industry in the state went from 40 to over 150 dispensaries.

Except for the maintenance of patient registration, control of the state’s medicinal marijuana program will be transferred from the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) under HB 2.

Recreational Use Legalization

As mentioned above, New Mexico’s HB 2 legalizes and regulates cannabis for people 21 and older. New Mexico’s marijuana legalization law took effect in April 2021, with limited personal possession and cultivation officially becoming legal for adults 21 and older.

The Cannabis Control Division (CCD) will be set up in the Regulation and Licensing Department to license cannabis businesses. Applications may be submitted using the CCD’s online application system. Compliance officials will continue monitoring and inspecting retail outlets once the shops open in addition to continuing to assess licenses to ensure that license holders are complying with the rules.

New Mexico Cannabis License Types

The Division will issue licenses to the following categories of adult-use cannabis businesses:

  • Couriers
  • Producers
  • Manufacturers
  • Retailers
  • Microbusinesses
  • Cannabis Consumption Areas
  • Vertically Integrated Establishments
  • Integrated Micro Businesses

 

In August 2021, the division started accepting the application process for cultivator licenses, and in December 2021, the division began accepting license applications for the other types of cannabis-related businesses. 

As of March 31st, the state’s Cannabis Control Division has approved 239 new cannabis business licenses, of which 56 are micro-producers, 51 are producers, 16 are manufacturers, and 116 are retail licenses.

There is no limit on the number of businesses that can get licenses or how many facilities a licensee can open for business. Several licenses may operate from the same location, and licensees may operate from multiple locations.

Cannabis Business Annual License Fees:

  • Cannabis Producer License – $2,500
  • Cannabis Producer Microbusiness License – $500-$1,000
  • Cannabis Manufacturer License – $2,500
  • Cannabis Retailer License – $2,500
  • Vertically Integrated Cannabis Establishment License – $7,500
  • Integrated Cannabis Microbusiness License – $1,000-$2,500
  • Cannabis Testing Laboratory License – $2,500
  • Cannabis Research Laboratory License – $2,500
  • Cannabis Courier License – $250
  • Cannabis Consumption Area – Up to $2,500

 

More information about licensing and operational requirements for cannabis businesses can be found here.

As the state’s cannabis program, especially the recreational program, grows in scope, we will inform you of any pertinent news and legislation regarding opening a dispensary in New Mexico. By subscribing to our New Mexico Cannabis Mailing List (details below), you can stay abreast of any pertinent news, including hard-to-find news and opinions based on New Mexico Legalization. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • How much does it cost to open a dispensary license in New Mexico?
  • What are the requirements to get a marijuana business license and open a dispensary in New Mexico?
  • What special programs will be available?
  • And more

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