Leaf Brief

Leaf Brief: Gone Green

State sees $40 million in cannabis sales in first month of recreational use

There’s a reason why New Mexico legalized recreational cannabis, evidenced by the massive amount of sales the state has seen in its first month since prohibition ended. (It’s only been a little over six weeks—seems longer!)Dispensaries in Santa Fe are raking in customers while the state racks up tax dollars. The Cannabis Control Division announced that during the first month of adult-use sales, retailers sold almost $40 million in both recreation and medical cannabis. Santa Fe had the third-most cannabis sales of any New Mexico city in its first month of legalized recreational use. The city saw $1.8 million in adult-use sales, compared to $1.6 million in medical sales, totaling around $3.6 million—topped only by Albuquerque and Las Cruces. Albuquerque led the market with more than $14 million in total sales.Among those sales are receipts from Sacred Garden, which resolved its dispute with state regulators earlier this month after missing out on the first few weeks of sales. Also, don’t forget to show your faves some love in the new cannabis categories in the Best of Santa Fe poll here. Scroll down for more news from around the state and nation.

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Federal Legislation

Members of the US Senate are calling on fellow lawmakers to pass the SAFE Banking Act, which would allow cannabis companies to utilize banking services. Currently, federal law prohibits such measures. So far, 24 senators (including New Mexico Democrats Martin Heinrich and Ben Ray Lujan) have pushed for the legislation, which passed the House of Representatives in February. The 19 Democrats and five Republicans say it would provide a safer business sector, support innovation and create jobs. Meanwhile, the Senate has been reluctant to pass pro-cannabis bills, but more officials are starting to throw their support at such legislation.

Consumption Lounges

The places where Santa Feans can use cannabis are limited. The Cannabis Regulation Act prohibits smoking cannabis in public, charging offenders with a $50 civil penalty. Santa Fe County issued rules in 2021 that prevent smoking cannabis outdoors, allowing it only in areas that occupy standalone buildings from which smoke doesn’t infiltrate other indoor places—meaning it’s limited largely to households. However, those taking a road trip down south might try stopping in Las Cruces, where the state’s first cannabis consumption lounge opened last month at Sol Cannabis. While it serves as a sort of refuge for Texans crossing the border to imbibe, it offers a bar-like atmosphere. Except instead of alcohol, patrons can find an assortment of cannabis-infused beverages and food there. They can also smoke cannabis, offering users a public haven. Meanwhile, the Minerva Canna location on Cerrillos Road offers a consumption spot of its own. Customers can find artisanally crafted edibles, a THC vape area, and THC-infused coffee beverages.

City Grow

The Global Storage on Cerrillos Road is set to become a new indoor greenhouse. Sujay Kumar Thakur, the owner of the 7,000-square-foot structure, has proposed turning the facility into a grow operation with retail use. SFR tuned in to the Early Neighborhood Notification meeting for the proposal, however, and no one asked questions or made comments. If officials approve the special use permit Thakur is seeking, the plan would put a substantial grow operation on one of the city’s main roads.

Dispute Settled

A cease and desist order against Sacred Garden, a well known cannabis producer, was lifted in late April. The Cannabis Control Division initially halted the business’s operations after a customer complained two strains smelled of mold. The division claimed the products contained levels of mold above regulatory levels, but the producer protested, saying the state was using an outdated testing protocol. Sacred Garden responded with a request for an injunction in a Santa Fe court and the judge ordered the two sides to come up with an agreed cannabis testing regimen. The producer has since remedied the issue and has resumed sales, but continues to only serve medical patients.

Tax Payments

The state’s new cannabis industry is expected to bring a steady stream of tax revenue and the first cannabis excise tax payments are due later this month. According to the state Taxation and Revenue Department, 78 cannabis businesses have registered for the excise tax so far. While the state is expected to pay out around $15 million worth of gross receipts refunds to medical cannabis businesses, New Mexico should receive roughly $50 million from non-medical sales, with recreational companies paying a 12 percent excise tax. In the first weekend alone, the state racked in enough sales to generate roughly $672,000. This and the 11,000 jobs the new industry is expected to create is an addition to the $300 million in annual sales.

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