Gwynne Ann Unruh is an award-winning reporter formerly of the Alamosa Valley Courier, an independent paper in southern Colorado. She covers the environment for The Paper.

Cannabis dispensaries were so busy this week with the start of recreational marijuana sales it was hard to find someone to talk to you if you didn’t want to buy recreational or medicinal cannabis. Cash registers were opening nonstop as staff helped patients and rec buyers choose what products would best fit their needs. Medical cannabis patients have their fingers crossed there will be enough marijuana to go around.

The Paper caught up with Max Griego, Operations Manager of Seven Clover in Albuquerque, who told us he had seen a pretty hefty increase in sales. “Since rec rolled out, we had a drastic increase compared to our daily sales. I would say we had over 10 times the sales that we typically process.”

After April 1, Griego said their clientele’s age was across the board. “So many people are just so exhilarated to finally have a legal cannabis program that a lot of people coming into the stores are not cannabis users, but are attending the store just for the novelty of it”.

Anyone over 21 became immediately eligible to purchase legal cannabis, on what has been affectionately called Mary Jane Day, and not just new Mexican residents. “You have anybody coming from out of state who is 21 and over, can walk into any dispensary with their photo ID and purchase cannabis.”

Griego believes the cannabis tourism industry is going to have a huge effect on sales. “It’s going to be very, very good for New Mexico. “I can’t think of anything more beautiful than looking at the mountains in Taos or the Sandias with a joint in your mouth.”

Griego said the Balloon Fiesta this year may be the biggest one ever seen in Albuquerque. “There are people who are itching to get out and go see something new, and Americans are all of a sudden falling back in love with their country because that’s going to be the safest and most convenient way for them to travel. We’re really hoping to capture a lot of that market coming through New Mexico, not just for Seven Clover, but industry wide.”

Even though Griego anticipates a lot of rec sales, “our medical patients take the cake. They’re covered before anyone else.  A lot of companies are doing a 25/75 split for all cannabis products – 25 medicinal and 75 recreational. Seven Clover has adopted a 60/40 split with 40% for medical patients.”

“This is medicine for a lot of people; it’s beyond recreational. A lot of our patients grew up with the stigma of cannabis. They got over it by using it as medicine, and they treat it as medicine.”

Griego said Seven Clover could lose their license if they don’t provide for their medical patients. “If we can’t keep up with our medical demand, there’s certainly no way that we would be able to get you into our stores. It’s too delicate of a balance.”

“The medical cannabis patients are first and foremost our priority. They have given us millions of dollars to get to this point, and they’re still shopping with Seven Clover,” Griego  said.