It’s not an April Fool’s Day gag. New Mexico’s adult-use cannabis retail sales begin on April 1—mere days from now—and the state’s pot-buyers and -sellers are revving up for the action to start. State regulators say the market is primed and ready to open.
“We are excited to see adult-use cannabis sales get under way in New Mexico on April 1,” said Cannabis Control Division (CCD) spokesperson Heather Brewer. “The collaboration among the state, industry and the public to stand up this exciting new industry is an example of the very best of New Mexico—and what we can accomplish when we work together.”
The CCD says it has approved more than 225 licenses for cannabis businesses across the state. New Mexico’s largest city, Albuquerque, says it has approved the applications of 55 cannabis retail locations and is still waiting to review eight more. It’s unclear how many of these locations will be open for business on April 1.
How Much Weed Can You Buy?
The Cannabis Regulation Act (CRA) allows adults over 21 to purchase up to two ounces of dried cannabis flower or 16 grams of cannabis extract at a time. The same limits apply to transporting the drug, but the law does not limit how much flower or extract can be stored at an individual’s residence.
Adults are also allowed to grow up to six mature plants on their property with a 12-plant limit for homes with more than one adult resident.
Prepared For Shortages
Last July Regulation and Licensing Department Superintendent Linda Trujillo told the state’s Economic Development and Policy Committee that the state faced shortages in the early days of retail sales due to what she called “Krispy Kreme syndrome.” She was referencing a common phenomenon attached to the opening of Krispy Kreme or other popular fast food chain locations in new markets. When a Krispy Kreme opens in a new town, consumer demands spike and cause short-term shortages. A parallel is often seen when adult-use cannabis sales begin in a state. The novelty of the newly available product causes an initial increase in demand that eventually levels out with time.
Regulators have attempted to get ahead of potential shortages by temporarily increasing plant limits for producers. According to the CCD, producers are currently sitting on more than 1,000,000 mature cannabis plants. That’s twice the number of plants that Trujillo predicted would be needed to meet consumer demands during the first few weeks of retail cannabis sales. Regulators came to that total by accessing the state’s BioTrack system, which tracks seed-to-sale records of all the cannabis circulating in the state’s legal market. The system has been utilized by medical cannabis regulators for years.
But some producers have said they don’t trust the state’s numbers. The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that leading local producers Verdes Foundation and Pecos Valley Production have only grown around 1,430 and 3,000 mature plants, respectively.
Brewer says the data comes directly from producers and seems confident that supply will meet demand. “According to the data producers have entered into New Mexico’s top-of-the-line, seed-to-sale tracking system, there are more than a million cannabis plants ready to go in the state,” said Brewer. “The state is in a great position to launch adult-use sales and meet market demand on April 1.”
CCD Director Kristen Thomson told reporters that the agency isn’t concerned about shortages. “We do not have concerns about lack of product,” she said. “As with any new gadget or restaurant or something opening, some products may come up short, but we do not anticipate a massive statewide shortage of product on opening day.”
Patients enrolled in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program need not worry, as retailers and producers are required to set aside 20 percent of their supplies strictly for medical sales. This means even if shortages in adult-use cannabis occur, patients will still have access to their medicine. According to the Department of Health, there are currently 131,931 patients enrolled in the program.
What To Expect
Gearing up for your your first time at a weed store? Be ready for long lines and hours-long waits for the first few weeks or even months. People have been waiting decades for a chance to legally purchase marijuana in a public setting, and they’ll be champing at the bit to lay their money down at a real, honest-to-goodness pot shop.
Even if shortage fears prove unfounded, some retailers may choose to temporarily institute their own purchase limits until things calm down a bit. Options might be somewhat limited at first as well. In the rush to get ahead of deadlines, some manufacturers have been focusing on fewer products with plans to expand in the near future. This means you’ll likely be able to get an edible or extract, but your options will remain limited for some time.
New cannabis stores can become crowded, loud and overstimulating in the early days, so be prepared to have your senses ambushed during your first few outings. It might be a good idea to see if you can shop ahead online or at least eyeball the menu ahead of time. Have backup options ready to go in case the item you want is sold out.
Most important of all: Be ready to be disappointed.
More than likely, all the worry over shortages is just industry hype and general paranoia. You’ll probably be able to walk away from your first dispensary with a pile of products that more than meets your expectations. But there is a chance that you may stand in line all day and still walk away empty-handed. If that happens, do not despair, Dear Reader. Legal cannabis is here to stay and there’s always tomorrow.