The state of New Mexico has legalized the consumption, growth, extraction, and possession of cannabis! All of us at CE+C send our congratulations and best wishes for a mellow, productive, and economically beneficial future. The business opportunities for cannabis producers and entrepreneurs will grow exponentially—are you going to be part of that growth?
If you are planning a cannabis extraction facility or grow room, here are some things that will be of interest. For everybody else, go straight to the end of the article for a couple of historical facts about weed legalization in the United States.
To prepare for the influx of a new industry, New Mexico created the Cannabis Control Division (CCD), which will implement regulations governing the licensing and other business aspects of the state’s cannabis industry. It is located under the Regulation & Licensing Department. The existing Medical Marijuana program patient registry will continue to be administered by the Department of Health.
The Cannabis Regulation Act (CRA) that legalized specific types of commercial marijuana production for adult consumption also required the establishment of the Cannabis Regulatory Advisory Committee (CRAC). The CRAC, chaired by Emily Kaltenbach, began meeting in September of 2021. Interested parties may attend the web-based meetings by registering in advance. A recent meeting included agenda items such as progress in licensing to date, equity program results, and consideration of rules governing the sales and marketing of cannabis products for consumption.
Whether you plan to be a producer, a processor, or a hybrid of both, there are very stringent codes you will need to meet. Extraction uses volatile chemicals that require extremely careful management to prevent fires, explosions, property damage, and even loss of life. If you don’t have this experience at your fingertips, please be sure to consult an expert prior to making decisions about your solvents and equipment. This is not only a safety decision; it is also an economic one. The wrong choice for your jurisdiction and fire marshal will delay your permitting, putting you that much further away from production and profit. Here’s a brief introduction to solvents.
Producer Rules effective 8/24/2021 includes new rules on safe production, testing, sale, and consumption of cannabis products. The legal text can be found here. You might want to have a lawyer with you to translate. The prose is pretty dense.
New Mexico Governor Lujan Grisham seems very bullish on cannabis, foreseeing economic growth as a result of its legalization. She calls it, “A huge step forward for social justice and economic development.” She added, “It will bring millions of dollars to our local communities and our state.” In addition to the economic boom, she sees the legalization as a fundamental way to address the past disproportionate criminalization faced by People of Color for cannabis possession.
At the time of signing, the law allows people over 21 to possess six “immature” and six “mature” plants, up to a maximum of 12 mature plants per household, regardless of the number of residents. The law allows for designated public consumption areas, and provides for a $50 civil fine for violators of approved public spaces.
In an effort to protect the supply of medical marijuana from being cannibalized by the more profitable recreational market, the state will require a portion of producers’ output to be reserved for medical purposes. Producers and retailers should look carefully at the details of these requirements to ensure compliance. You can read about licensing requirements here:
We are paying particular attention to the facility security and planning requirements, and fire protection requirements. You should, too!
Modern US History snippet
Interesting to note that in 2021, eight states passed new marijuana laws. In South Dakota and Mississippi, where the laws were passed by citizen initiative, both were declared void by State Supreme Courts. There was no trouble with the states where laws were enacted by the legislature. But the initiative process has been successful from the beginning. In 2012, Washington and Colorado became the first states to legalize recreational marijuana use, and both used the initiative process. They have stood for nearly a decade as established law. We hope that South Dakota and Mississippi* find ways toward legalization that will pass muster with their states’ Supreme Courts.
*Initiative to legalize medical marijuana only