New Mexico recreational pot sales top $300M in 1st year

By Morgan Lee, Associated Press

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Recreational cannabis consumers bought just over $300 million in pot in New Mexico since sales without a prescription were legalized a year ago, the state cannabis control division said Monday.

New Mexico legalized recreational marijuana on April 1, 2022, and brought sales to the doorstep of Texas, the largest prohibition state.

Further legalization efforts stumbled last month as voters in Oklahoma rejected a ballot measure that would have made the state the 22nd in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana.

In New Mexico, marijuana entrepreneurs have launched hundreds of retail outlets, farms and industrial kitchens for manufacturing cannabis products, including edible candies. There are now 633 registered cannabis retailers across the state of 2.1 million residents.

Across the state, more than $27 million in excise taxes on recreational cannabis have been collected over the past 12 months. Local governments receive a minority share of the state’s 12% excise tax on recreational marijuana sales, along with a share of additional sales taxes that also apply to pot sales.

Cannabis retailers and dispensaries near Texas accounted for an outsized portion of sales. More than $19 million in recreational marijuana was sold through licensed businesses in Sunland Park, on the outskirts of El Paso, Texas. The town of fewer than 20,000 residents also flanks the U.S. border with Mexico.

Anyone 21 and older can purchase up to 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana — enough to roll about 60 joints or cigarettes — or comparable amounts of liquid concentrates and edible treats.

Legal experts warn that New Mexico customers who return home to other states could risk criminal penalties, arrest and incarceration — most notably in Texas.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and many Democratic legislators pitched the legalization of recreational marijuana as a way to expand and diversify the economy. They also sought to reverse harm from marijuana criminalization on minority communities and poor households by automatically dismissing or erasing some past cannabis convictions and reducing financial barriers for startup businesses.

New Mexico has nurtured a medical marijuana program since 2007 under tight restrictions.

Medical marijuana accounted for an additional $187 million in sales for the 12 months ending in March 2023. Patients qualify for the medical program under a long list of conditions ranging from cancer to post-traumatic stress.

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