SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – The countdown is on to recreational marijuana sales. While time is ticking to get a plan in place, some want to make it easier for you to get into the business of growing and selling pot. From increasing the number of plants you can grow to dropping the cost to get licensed, lawmakers are ready to get more pot-growing ahead of sales.
“We’re going to continue to learn from this industry as we open it up,” said Rep. Andrea Romero, who serves Santa Fe County. “This gives us a chance, thankfully, in this 30-day session.”
A big part of Senate Bill 100 is boosting the number of plants producers can have. For micro-producers, the plan is to go from 200 to 1,000.
“Part of the equity piece is allowing micro-producers to have a license. It makes it really lucrative for them,” said Romero. “That really sets them on a footing for potential growth and truly a competitive market that we’d like them to enter into.”
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Earlier Monday, the state’s Regulation and Licensing Department, which oversees the Cannabis Control Division, says they made their own changes to licenses. In addition to boosting some plant counts, they’re also cutting the cost per plant in half, from $10 to $5.
“The cannabis producers were not raising their plant count,” a representative said during the meeting. “What we learned is the reason that they weren’t is for the cost associated with that.”
The new legislation also allows business owners who already have an alcohol license to also be cleared to sell cannabis. However, it still cannot be under the same roof.
“If you’re an entrepreneur who owns many restaurants or many businesses in a single location, it shouldn’t prohibit you from being able to license both in cannabis and in alcohol if it’s all under your own name,” said Romero. “The whole point of our original legislation was to ensure that it wasn’t commingled. You wouldn’t be able to purchase both things at the same place.”
Romero says other areas like security requirements have already been worked out with those who have already received their licenses. However, she hopes these final additions are the last step needed for the state’s newest industry.
“Hopefully this continues to strengthen the ability for entrepreneurs to get into the business,” said Romero. “And feel very good about how these licenses are being issued.”
Even though the reduced fees would mean less money coming in from pot, lawmakers hope the affordability will instead encourage more industry growth, bringing big money in down the line. While the state has to begin cannabis sales by April 1 at the latest, regulators haven’t ruled out launching sales earlier if things fall into place before then.