Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has a message for people preparing to invest in the state’s young recreational cannabis business.
“I want you to knock this industry off your socks,” she said on Wednesday in front of 300 attendees at the cannabis legalization conference in New Mexico.
Lujan Grisham said she wants people all over the country to say, “Have you heard of New Mexico? It is no longer green and red ”- as in Chile -“ it is green and green ”.
She predicted that New Mexico cannabis will eventually outperform the product sold in Colorado. The governor of this state, Jared Polis, once challenged Lujan Grisham for a tasting to find out once and for all which state grew the best green chillies.
Lujan Grisham made her brief presentation at the Albuquerque Convention Center, where the two day event is taking place. The conference brought together established cannabis companies and potential entrepreneurs for a series of presentations, workshops and study sessions, all centered around the myths, realities and challenges of a brand new industry.
State lawmakers passed a law during a special session this year that legalizes the possession and use of recreational cannabis for adults aged 21 and over and creates a legal industry for cannabis production, manufacture and sale. The possession and use of cannabis, as well as the cultivation of a limited number of plants for personal use, became legal on Tuesday. But the sale remains illegal.
The state regulation and licensing division tasked with developing rules for cannabis producers, manufacturers, retailers and others for a future commercial marketplace held a virtual public hearing on Tuesday on the first draft rules for breeders.
Many potential cannabis micro-business operators told the agency that the proposed rules – which would require license applicants to provide evidence of water rights, safety regulations, and a facility – would make it difficult for newcomers to enter the industry.
Lujan Grisham – who said she was advocating legalizing cannabis when former Governor Gary Johnson, a then Republican, tried to legalize it in the 1990s – spoke of her efforts to bring state lawmakers together to do the job that year to do.
Laws put in place during the regular 60-day session stalled, causing the governor to convene a special session in late March.
“People were upset,” she said, adding that she had made it clear that she expected some measure to find its way to her desk. She signed the successful bill in mid-April.
Now it is up to the entrepreneurs to make the industry a reality: “This challenge is now right in your lap.”
Some attendees at Wednesday’s event said they intend to tackle this challenge head on.
Madrid-based Cid and Medina Isbell said they are ready to invest at least $ 800,000 in opening a fully integrated cannabis operation in the village south of Santa Fe. From spring they want to grow, manufacture and sell cannabis on their 30 hectare property with a well.
They attended the conference to meet other growers and brainstorm ideas for their business, they said.
During a public forum at the conference, some established medical cannabis operators spoke about the difficulties they initially faced. When one of the panelists told an audience of about 60 people to prepare to spend $ 1 million on the break-in, several people gasped.
Cid Isbell, who attended the meeting, wasn’t that surprised. But, he said, he has spoken to many budding cannabis growers who seem to have little idea what they are getting into.
“It’s hard for people to understand how complicated this is,” he said. “It’s complex to make money with it. Lots of people think they’ll jump in and make money right away. “
Early state reports on the economic impact of the new industry said it is expected to create 11,000 jobs.
A March Legislative Finance Committee report predicted that recreational marijuana sales would bring in tax revenues of $ 19.1 million for the state and $ 9.4 million for local governments for the industry’s fiscal year as of July 2022 .
The following year could be more lucrative for the state with up to $ 30 million in tax revenue, the report said.
However, some economists warn that cannabis sales in New Mexico could decline dramatically after a brief boom, especially if the federal government or other neighboring states – like Texas – legalize recreational use.
Matt Kennicott, a partner at P2M Cannabis Group, a consulting firm in Albuquerque, said he believes the new industry will “take off like wildfire.”
“I think people have been waiting for this opportunity for a long time, not just entrepreneurs but people who enjoy the product,” he said. “We’ll probably blow the projections out of the water … at all levels, including the economy.”
The challenges are numerous, he said.
“Every time you get into a regulated industry, there is a lot of compliance stuff to do on the front end,” he said.
“You will see people get into capital problems. You have to have cash upfront somehow. “