Regulators held an all-day public hearing to vet proposed rules for cannabis businesses to determine future licensing fees, quality controls, audit requirements and the extent of criminal background checks for producers.
The rules they are considering would allow more marijuana crops per business — nearly three times the 1,750-plant limit for medical cannabis growers. Enrollment in the medical marijuana program has surged past 100,000 people in a state of 2.1 million residents.
Recreational marijuana are planned to start by April 1, 2022 and will include a 12% excise tax in addition to sales taxes ranging from about 5% to 9%.
“We are proactively stopping the disproportionate criminalization of people of color for cannabis possession, and we are building a new industry,” Lujan Grisham said in a news release.
Recreational marijuana is now legal in 16 states and Washington, D.C., with Connecticut and Virginia set to join the list Thursday.
Past drug convictions won’t bar individuals from starting a licensed marijuana business, though it is a consideration. In the interest of equitable opportunity, the state will issue “micro-licenses” for a small fee for cultivation of up to 200 plants. Those businesses might come to resemble small craft breweries.
New expungement and pardon procedures don’t apply to convictions for trafficking large quantities of illicit marijuana.
New indoor and outdoor venues for consuming marijuana are coming soon that might resemble bars or lounges. Those “cannabis consumption areas” will be licensed by the state for a fee.
Local governments can’t ban pot businesses but they can set zoning requirements for business locations and hours. Existing medical marijuana dispensaries can’t be easily dislodged.
Democratic state Rep. Javier Martínez — lead architect of the state’s legalization effort — wants to create a “rural equity fund” to provide support and possibly subsidies to growers from marginalized communities.
Chad Lozano, a former advocate for medical patients and future commercial cannabis producer, says prices for recreational marijuana in New Mexico will be relatively high at first compared with other states and should decline as the market matures.
An ounce of marijuana fills a sandwich bag and can typically be rolled into nearly 30 joints or cigarettes.
The bones of a greenhouse have already been built, but that's just the start because the whole facility will soon be a 115-acre research and manufacturing cannabis plant. With more than 100 employees, they said it's worth more than $300 million in investments, however, some locals still have some concerns.
They have some lofty ambitions.
"We are one of three, in the United States of America, that are federally legal to handle Schedule 1 drugs,” said Terry Rafih, chairman of Bright Green Corporation.
"Am I against this project? No. We need jobs, we need everything that goes along with it. But, I do have a lot of concerns that need to be answered,” said Hicks.
GRANTS, N.M. – Marijuana use is becoming more widely accepted – but for decades there's been one powerful opponent: the federal government. It is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning the feds view it like they view cocaine, heroin and meth.
“If you look at the number of people that are dependent on opioids for many different pains and ailments that we deal with, the product that we are going to be producing out of here and the patents that we have – hopefully – we're hoping it will eliminate, eventually, opioids. That is our goal,” Rafih said.
Hicks, known to be outspoken, had some reservations.