There are over 1,000 cannabis licenses in New Mexico

Rachael Speegle, CEO of the Verdes Foundation, speaks with an employee. The state has approved and issued more than 1,000 cannabis licenses since last fall. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

The state has reached a milestone in the approval and issuance of cannabis licenses, passing 1,000 since the Division of Cannabis Control began issuing them last fall.

To date, a total of 1027 licenses have been approved and issued.

Those numbers were shared by the division Tuesday in a presentation to lawmakers on the Legislature’s Interim Courts, Corrections and Justice Committee.

The update comes nearly half a year into the sale of adult-use cannabis, which has so far generated nearly $88 million in recreational sales for cannabis businesses. And it comes at a time when lawmakers and industry leaders are raising questions about equality in the cannabis industry.

“We have dismantled the alcohol monopoly and now we have created a super monopoly. Six (businesses) that control the market,” said Sen. Joseph Cervantes, D-Las Cruces, referring to a group of legacy operators in New Mexico that controls a large portion of the cannabis market. “I think what’s unfair is that we’re letting people believe they can go out.”

In the CCD update, 292 licenses were issued to retail businesses, 188 to manufacturers and 91 to manufacturers – the three main types of licences.

CCD began accepting license applications late last year and began issuing licenses as early as September. But a big push in approvals came as April, the start of recreational sales, approached.

Vertically integrated licenses – which allow businesses to grow their own factories, manufacture their own products and operate storefronts – account for 110 licenses, according to the data. And less common types of licenses, including those issued to cannabis testing labs and consumption areas, accounted for five total licenses approved.

But New Mexico, unlike other states where cannabis is legalized either recreationally or medically, allows multiple premises to be attached to a license – leading to it potentially accounting for more physical locations than what is shown in the number of total licenses approved. For example, there are about 471 storefronts attached to nearly 300 retail licenses, according to CCD data.

The number of licenses approved in recent months has given some industry executives and lawmakers reason to praise the fledgling industry. This has given others cause for concern.

Ben Lewinger, executive director of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, said the state’s aggressive timeline for approving licenses for cannabis businesses and the fact that there is no limit is a win for those looking to get a fresh start in a new one. industry.

“We want a variety of operators … for a variety of different customer experiences,” Lewinger said, adding that some adjustments may be needed over time to keep the industry in good shape.

Andrew Vallejos, director of the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control for the state Department of Regulation and Licensing, said putting a quota on the number of licenses would put the cannabis industry on the same path as the beverage industry — benefiting further. a number of businesses in the industry that share the largest share of the market.

However, limiting the licenses would require legislative changes, said RLD spokeswoman Bernice Geiger.

Sen. Katy Duhigg, D-Albuquerque, said there are risks both ways with cannabis licenses.

“While Director Vallejos is right that if we put a quota on licenses we are going down the same road as alcohol, at the same time all we have to do is look around the states that have unlimited licensing and see how they have these markets. flooded and how the bottoms have fallen on top of them,” Duhigg said. “It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone when our market gets flooded because of our unlimited (cannabis) licensing and a lot of people lose a lot of money.”

Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of Ultra Health, told the Journal that the state has already reached a point where he could see more than 200 retail locations close next year due to market saturation caused by the state not there is a license limit.

“I tend to think of it as a very scary and ominous sign of what lies ahead,” Rodriguez said.

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