EXPLAINER: What’s ahead for recreational pot in New Mexico

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Marijuana fans and entrepreneurs in New Mexico gear up for the April 1 debut of state-regulated retail marijuana.

New Mexico joins 17 other states that have legalized recreational marijuana without significant legal challenges.

The start of sales dates to a new era for cannabis as big business with implications for law enforcement, scarce water resources, economic opportunity and cannabis tourism along the state line with Texas. Here are some things to know.

Beginning at midnight on April 1, all adults 21 and older will be allowed to purchase up to 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana at retail stores across the state. That’s enough pot to fill a sandwich bag or roll about 60 joints or cigarettes.

The state first began offering medical marijuana to help people endure hardships, including cancer, 15 years after the change took effect, and a portion of the future supply is being reserved for cannabis patients.

Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and allied lawmakers hope that widespread legalization of marijuana will seal black markets, boost jobs and provide a steady new source of government income.

Growing pains are guaranteed as retailers stock new shelves and ramp up production to meet the precarious demands of cannabis cultivators, including tourists from Texas, which still prohibits most marijuana.

So far, the state has licensed more than 500 business complexes – outdoor farms, greenhouses, retail outlets and manufacturing facilities for extracts and foodstuffs.

The new “Cannabis Control” office also licenses marijuana consumption lounges and a private network of testing laboratories to ensure that products are free of contaminants and to verify the drug potency listed on the label.

There are already 225 licensed retail outlets – though not all will open on the first day.

“We’re going to have some nice balloons and we might get some catering,” said Logan McIlroy, a director at Hobb-based Brian’s Green Care, a family-owned cannabis business that started its business in 2015 with CBD sales. had started.

The business spent months seeking access to the city’s water supply as it prepares to stock its own cannabis stores in Hobbes, Roswell, Ruidoso and soon Santa Teresa – a short drive from El Paso, Texas, and Mexico. US border with

Josh McCurdy, a contract grower and consultant to upstart marijuana growers, warns wannabe pot entrepreneurs in New Mexico to be mindful of financial risks and competitive pressures. He says he saw novice pot farmers in Oklahoma go bankrupt.

“They think it’s a weed, but technically it’s a flowering herb,” ​​said McCurdy, owner of Narly LLC, which manages cannabis cultivation for fledgling marijuana operations, including Sunland Park Cannabis Farm. “It’s not as easy as it seems to grow high-quality cannabis. It’s a lot of work.”

New Mexico’s legalization laws seek to reverse some of the damage done to minority communities and poor families.

Emily Kaltenbach, a senior director at the Drug Policy Alliance, which supports the decriminalization of drugs, said states provide those communities with easy access to licenses, state subsidized loans and even product-certification logos in the industry. We hope to help establish a foothold in what drives consumers forward. Cannabis from minority-owned businesses.

The New Mexico Finance Authority is creating a $5 million line of credit for entrepreneurs who found cannabis micro-businesses along the lines of craft breweries, which had an average loan size of about $100,000.

In a sea change for law enforcement, police can no longer cite the smell of marijuana as a reason to search vehicles or personal property.

Efforts are underway to eliminate cannabis infringements from criminal records that can harm people’s chances of employment or standing in society.

The state’s Department of Public Safety has identified approximately 155,000 instances or arrests or convictions that qualify for automatic expulsion and dismissal. In some cases the jail term can be shortened.

Prosecutors have until July 1, 2022 to raise objections to the removal of the record and quashing the sanctions. Individuals can expedite the process without paying the standard court fee.

The state would impose a 12% excise duty on marijuana sales that would eventually increase to 18%. This is before standard taxes on sales of 5-9%.

Medical marijuana will remain tax-free for patients with qualifying medical conditions, including post-traumatic stress. More than 6% of the state’s population participates in the medical cannabis program.

By conservative estimates, state and local tax income from recreational cannabis will exceed $45 million annually within three years. Two-thirds goes to the state general fund, with one-third for local governments.

Lawmakers have yet to decide how to spend the money.

Indoor and outdoor venues that can resemble bars or lounges are being licensed for cannabis consumption. Those “cannabis consumption areas” would be licensed by the state for a fee.

Eating utensils will also be permitted in designated hotel rooms, casinos, cigar bars and tobacco shops. In other public places, marijuana consumption would be treated like alcohol or cigarettes.

At home, hobbyists have the right to grow six cannabis plants for personal consumption and up to 12 per family.

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