The New Mexico adult-use cannabis market is officially open for business.
After the clock struck midnight on Friday, newly minted cannabis retailers opened their doors to customers eager to make an inaugural purchase.
According to the Las Cruces Sun News, “a few hundred people” lined up outside one store in Las Cruces, the state’s second largest city that had “several” stores commemorating the historic day by opening at 12:01 a.m.
One customer, Jeremy Sandoval, lined up outside the store at 6:30 p.m., according to the newspaper.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Sandoval said, as quoted by the Las Cruces Sun News. “We’ve all been waiting for it. It’s a milestone in the road ahead of us.”
The midnight openings were unique to Las Cruces. As the Sun News noted, the city is one of the only major cities in the state that has yet to establish operating hours for the cannabis retailers, “which is why these local dispensaries were able to have these midnight debuts.”
New Mexico is the 18th state to legalize recreational cannabis use for adults. The state’s Democratic governor, Lujan Grisham, signed a bill enacting the law last April, hailing it as a potential economic boon for New Mexico.
The governor’s office, citing the analysis of an independent economist, said that “sales of adult-use recreational cannabis could amount to $318 million in the first year, creating over several years what could be more than 11,000 new jobs.”
“The legalization of adult-use cannabis paves the way for the creation of a new economic driver in our state with the promise of creating thousands of good paying jobs for years to come,” Grisham said in a statement at the time. “We are going to increase consumer safety by creating a bona fide industry. We’re going to start righting past wrongs of this country’s failed War on Drugs. And we’re going to break new ground in an industry that may well transform New Mexico’s economic future for the better.”
Grisham’s office estimates “that the excise tax will raise at least $20 million for the general fund in the first full fiscal year, with significant growth in subsequent years,” and that local governments “will also benefit from the added revenue.”
“As we look to rebound from the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, entrepreneurs will benefit from this great opportunity to create lucrative new enterprises, the state and local governments will benefit from the added revenue and, importantly, workers will benefit from the chance to land new types of jobs and build careers,” Grisham said in the statement last year.
Democratic state House Representative Javier Martinez said at the time that the state had “seized a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to establish a multi-million industry with a framework that’s right for our state and will benefit New Mexicans for generations to come.”
The new law states “anyone 21 and older can purchase up to two ounces (57 grams) of marijuana enough to roll about 60 joints or cigarettes—or comparable amounts of marijuana liquid concentrates and edible treats,” according to the Associated Press.
Late last year, the state’s Cannabis Control Division issued the final slate of rules for the adult-use program, most notably for manufacturing of cannabis in the state.
“Every day brings us closer to the first adult-use cannabis sales in New Mexico,” Cannabis Control Division Director Kristen Thomson said in a statement at the time. “Thanks to the Cannabis Control Division’s open and transparent rule-making process over the past six months, businesses and consumers can be confident that all necessary support and protection is in place to ensure a thriving cannabis industry in our state.”