New Mexico Cannabis Business Licenses
WHAT IS NEW MEXICO'S CURRENT CANNABIS MARKET STATUS?
In April 2007, New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, signed the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act into law allowing cannabis for medicinal purposes to qualified patients. Initially starting with a small list of only eight qualifying conditions, the state has expanded to include 28 conditions eligible for medical marijuana. Standing out in the list is the addition of an autism spectrum diagnosis, which is currently only recognized as a condition in 17 of the 33 medical cannabis states.
With only 35 licensed producers within the state, New Mexico reached $130 million in 2019 as patient registration grew from 67,574 to 80,257. With sales for 2021 projected at $170M - $205M, the recent passage of the Cannabis Regulation Act creates significant opportunities in the state. As of March 31st, 2021, New Mexico has 112,183 registered active patients.
Effective on June 29th, 2021, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grishan had legalized adult-use cannabis. The CRA has since created a comprehensive licensing, taxing, and regulatory enforcement structure for adult-use cannabis in the state that the Cannabis Control Division will administer (CCD), located in the Regulation and Licensing Department. The CCD will administer the CRA and the licensing and regulatory provisions of the Medical Cannabis Program created by the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act (LECUA). The Medical Cannabis Program patient registry will continue to be maintained by the Department of Health. The Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee is set to be announced no later than September 2021.
WHAT ARE NEW MEXICO'S CANNABIS LAWS?
Medical cannabis is legal in New Mexico under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act signed into law in April 2007. Twenty-eight medical conditions qualify patients to register for the use of medical cannabis, allowing them to purchase from a New Mexico dispensary and possess up to six ounces with the possibility of a higher limit with a letter of special need from a certifying physician. Patients are also permitted to grow up to four mature plants and possess 12 seedlings.
New Mexico joined the many states establishing criminal reformations by decriminalizing cannabis in 2019 when Governor Grisham signed Senate Bill 323. Under this law, a first-time possession offense is punishable by a $50 fine and is considered a petty misdemeanor. The enactment of S. 323 also made New Mexico the first state to decriminalize the possession of drug paraphernalia.
On March 31, 2021, the New Mexico House and Senate passed H.2 known as the Cannabis Regulation Act. This bill legalizes, regulates, and taxes cannabis for adults 21 and older. Current Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the bill on April 12, 2021, making New Mexico the 18th state to legalize adult-use cannabis and the fifth state to do so through the legislative process rather than through a voter initiative. The Cannabis Regulation Act became effective on June 29, 2021. and will be administered by the Cannabis Control Division, which is located in the Regulation and Licensing Department.
By September 2021, the state will establish a cannabis regulatory advisory committee to advise the Cannabis Control Division. Final license rules are due from the state by January 1, 2022, with licenses issued no later than April 1, 2022.
WHAT IS NEW MEXICO'S CANNABIS LICENSING TIMELINE & CANNABIS APPLICATION PROCESS?
The application process to cultivate and sell medical marijuana is currently closed. However, there is no established deadline or limit on the number of manufacturer licenses issued.
The Cannabis Control Department is set to accept and process license applications for all types no later than January 2022, with projected retail sales to begin no later than April 2022. Now that adult-use cannabis has been legalized, there is no better time to start preparing for the anticipated upcoming application round. Point7 has the knowledge and background to help you understand the complicated cannabis application process to be prepared when the time comes.
WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF CANNABIS IN NEW MEXICO?
New Mexico was a pioneer in the U.S. for legalizing some forms of medical cannabis in 1978 under the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act. This bill was supported by a research program led by the Food and Drug Administration, and cannabis was to be supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Lynn Pierson was a catalyst in the movement to pass this bill, as he found medical cannabis extremely helpful in relieving his cancer-related pain. Upon passage of the bill, by 1986, 250 cancer patients had received cannabis through the Lynn Pierson Therapeutic Research Program, which was named in his honor after him after his death. Governor Gary Johnson endorsed the legalization of cannabis in 1999, which was not received well by his fellow Republican lawmakers and politicians. In 2007, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act was signed into law by Governor Bill Richardson. Initially, the list of qualifying illnesses and ailments was small, but the conditions increased in the following years.
In March 2019, the House of Representatives passed a recreational legalization bill. However, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham pushed the issue to the legislative agenda for the next year. The following month Governor Grisham signed a law that lowered punishment for possession of cannabis charges to a $50 fine, and New Mexico became the first state to decriminalize possession of drug paraphernalia. The Governor continued to take steps towards legalization and formed the Cannabis Legalization Working Group tasked with determining plans for legalization in 2020. A legalization bill was presented to New Mexico lawmakers but failed to gain support. Governor Grisham revisited the issue in 2021, and successfully passed the Cannabis Regulation Act, thereby legalizing adult-use cannabis.
DOES NEW MEXICO HAVE A HEMP PROGRAM?
Cultivating and manufacturing hemp and hemp extracts is legal in New Mexico. As required by law, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture issues licenses to businesses and individuals cultivating hemp. The New Mexico Environment Department also issues licenses to businesses and individuals for processing activities following harvest, including extraction, distillation, and manufacturing. For most of the 2021 growing season, the New Mexico Department of Agriculture accepts applications and issues both Annual and Continuous Hemp Commercial Research Production Licenses under New Mexico’s 2019 and 2020 rules and policies. The majority of 2021 harvest requirements and laboratory testing will be similar to those in the 2019 and 2020 growing seasons. New Mexico hemp growers must be aware of all regulations for hemp production in the state. Changes include; licensing requirements, sampling, testing, and destruction of non-compliant crops/plants, which are subject to change during the 2021 growing season alongside the publication of the United States Department of Agriculture’s final hemp rule.
ARE YOU PREPARING FOR THE NEW MEXICO CANNABIS MARKET?
The future of cannabis looks promising in New Mexico. With a strong medical cannabis market, and adult-use legalization passing in 2021, it is never too early to develop a cannabis business plan and strategy. Contact Point7 today to discuss our products and service packages available to make the application process and post-licensure operations seamless.