EXPLAINER: What lies ahead for recreational pot in New Mexico | Health and fitness

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By MORGAN LEE – Associated Press

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — New Mexico marijuana enthusiasts and entrepreneurs are gearing up for the April 1 start of state-regulated retail marijuana.

New Mexico joins 17 other states that have legalized recreational marijuana without significant legal challenges.

The sales start date ushers in a new era for cannabis as big business with implications for law enforcement, scarce water resources, economic opportunity and cannabis tourism along the border with the United States. Texas. Here are a few things to know.

Beginning at midnight April 1, all adults 21 and older will be allowed to purchase up to 2 ounces (57 grams) of marijuana at outlets statewide. That’s enough jar to fill a sandwich bag or roll about 60 joints or cigarettes.

The changes come into effect 15 years after the state began offering medical marijuana to help people endure conditions such as cancer, and a portion of future supplies are earmarked for cannabis patients.

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Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and allied lawmakers hope broad marijuana legalization will eliminate black markets, boost jobs and provide stable new sources of government revenue.

Growing pains are guaranteed as retailers stock new shelves and cannabis growers ramp up production to meet uncertain demands that include tourists from Texas, which still mostly bans marijuana.

So far, the state has licensed more than 500 business premises – outdoor farms, greenhouses, retail outlets, and manufacturing facilities for extracts and edibles.

The new “cannabis testing” office also licenses marijuana parlors and a private network of testing labs to ensure products are free of contaminants and to verify drug potency listed on labels.

There are already 225 licensed outlets, but not all will open on Day 1.

“We’re going to have some nice balloons and maybe we’ll have some catering,” said Logan McIlroy, director of Bryan’s Green Care, a family-owned Hobb-based cannabis company that started operations in 2015 with CBD sales. .

The company has spent months negotiating access to the city’s water supply as it prepares to stock its own cannabis stores in Hobbs, Roswell, Ruidoso and soon Santa Teresa – just a short distance away. drive from El Paso, Texas and the US border with Mexico.

Josh McCurdy, a contract grower and consultant for upstart marijuana growers, warned budding pot entrepreneurs in New Mexico to be aware of financial risks and competitive pressures. He says he has witnessed the bankruptcy of novice pot farmers in Oklahoma.

“They think it’s a weed, but technically it’s a flowering weed,” said McCurdy, owner of Knarly LLC which handles cannabis cultivation for fledgling marijuana operations, including Sunland Park Cannabis Farms. “It’s not as easy as it sounds to grow high-quality cannabis. It’s a lot of work.”

New Mexico’s legalization laws seek to reverse some of the harm disproportionately inflicted on minority communities and poor households.

Emily Kaltenbach, senior director of the Drug Policy Alliance which supports drug decriminalization, said the state hopes to help these communities gain a foothold in the industry with easy access to licenses, state-subsidized loans and even product certification logos that direct consumers to cannabis from minority-owned businesses.

The New Mexico Finance Authority is preparing a $5 million line of credit for entrepreneurs who have found micro cannabis businesses modeled on craft breweries, with an average loan of around $100,000.

In a dramatic change for law enforcement, police can no longer cite the smell of marijuana as a reason for searching vehicles or private property.

Efforts are underway to clear cannabis-related offenses from criminal records that may harm job prospects or position in society.

The state Department of Public Safety has identified approximately 155,000 cases or arrests or convictions eligible for automatic disbarment and dismissal. Prison sentences can be shortened in certain cases.

Prosecutors have until July 1, 2022 to object to the deletion of records and the dismissal of sanctions. Individuals can expedite the process without paying standard court fees.

The state will levy a 12% excise tax on the sale of marijuana, which will eventually increase to 18%. This is before standard sales taxes of 5-9%.

Medical marijuana will remain tax-exempt for patients with eligible medical conditions, including post-traumatic stress. Over 6% of the state’s population participates in the medical cannabis program.

Conservative estimates suggest that state and local tax revenues from recreational cannabis will exceed $45 million per year within three years. A two-thirds share goes to the general state fund, with one-third going to local governments.

Lawmakers have yet to decide how to spend the money.

Both indoor and outdoor permitted cannabis consumption venues may resemble bars or lounges. These “cannabis consumption zones” will be licensed by the state for a fee.

Pot consumption will also be permitted in designated hotel rooms, casinos, cigar bars and tobacco shops. In other public places, marijuana use will be treated much like alcohol or cigarettes.

At home, hobbyists are also allowed to grow up to six cannabis plants for personal consumption and 12 per household.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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