Successful First Year of Legalization in New Mexico

Stephen Andrews
11 Apr 2023

Sales of recreational cannabis in New Mexico surpassed $300 million in the first year of legalization. Between April 2022 and April 2023, New Mexicans conducted over 10 million recreational cannabis sales transactions. The Land of Enchantment collected more than $27 million in taxes, allocated to the state general fund and local communities.

It looks like the first year of legal cannabis in New Mexico was an utter success. Recreational retail in New Mexico topped over $300 million in the first twelve months since legal cannabis sales launched in April 2022.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Cannabis Regulation Act into law in April 2021, signaling the era of legal cannabis in the state and allowing adults to consume cannabis products without fear of repercussions. Legal sales officially launched a year later, in April 2022. 

"In just one year, hundreds of millions of dollars in economic activity has been generated in communities across the state, the number of businesses continues to increase, and thousands of New Mexicans are employed by this new industry," Gov. Lujan Grisham said in a statement on April 3. "I'm excited to see what the future holds as we continue to develop an innovative and safe adult-use cannabis industry." 

Since launching sales, New Mexico regulators have granted around 2,000 cannabis licenses across the state, including 633 permits for dispensaries, 351 for producers, 415 for micro-producers, and 507 for manufacturers. 

In the first year of legalization, New Mexico weed sales have performed consistently well, with March 2023 proving to be the record-breaking month thus far, grossing more than $32 million in sales and surpassing a million transactions within the month. 

Recreational retail of cannabis is strongest in large cities such as Albuquerque, Las Cruces, and Santa Fe. At the same time, smaller communities like Clovis, Farmington, and Ruidoso made more than $7 million in adult-use sales. Sales performed strongly also in towns along the border with Texas, where recreational cannabis is still illegal. 

"From the governor's signing of the legislation, to standing up the Cannabis Control Division and rolling out this new industry, the New Mexico cannabis industry has shown great promise," Regulation and Licensing Department Superintendent Linda Trujillo said in a statement. "We're looking forward to even more growth in year two." 

Trujillo added that the agency would expand regulatory enforcement in the coming months. A nod that New Mexico's cannabis industry will likely undergo some form of correction during the second year, which might mean the end of business for certain cannabis operators across the state. But overall, market analysts have great confidence that there's a huge potential for long-term growth of the state's cannabis industry. 

Reilly White, an associate professor of finance at the University of New Mexico's Anderson School of Management, further reflected on the state's first year of recreational retail. "Strong consumer spending and historically low unemployment in New Mexico...encouraged the growth of recreational marijuana, and cannabis taxes have provided an additional state and municipal revenue source," he said. 

"Cannabis in New Mexico has a clear pathway to grow to more than a half billion dollars per year, especially as we compare the sales to states that legalized years ago," White said. 

Stephen Andrews