ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – New Mexico is just about two months out from retailers being able to sell recreational marijuana. However, the rollout may get off to a bumpy start. Come April 1, retailers can start selling recreational cannabis. Applicants, like Richard Jones, don’t know if they’ll be able to sell by then.
“Everything is up in the air, ’cause we don’t know where we’re sitting right now,” said Richard Jones, owner of One Stop Smoke Shop Vapor and Accessories off San Pedro. He and others are waiting to see if their license applications will get approved. He said he has to get approved soon if he wants to sell by April 1.
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“Unless I know within another month, I’m not going to be able to do it….I’ll have the license but then I have to go out and search where I’m going to get the product from,” said Jones. “It’s frustrating because you can’t plan. You can’t plan ahead. I need to be able to plan where all my money’s going to be going and what I’m going to be spending it on. I need to budget.”
The state’s Regulation and Licensing Department said it’s doing its best to work through all the applications as quickly as possible. “We’re doing with the limited resources that we have. We’ve been extremely successful, but that’s people working around the clock doing out producing overtime,” said Victor Reyes, deputy superintendent of RLD.
The department needs more manpower.
“We need additional support. And that’s why we asked the legislature for additional staff for an additional 30 staff members to help prop up this growing industry,” said Reyes.
Reyes said the department also needs 10 more compliance officers to make sure new establishments are following the rules of the new industry. As of Monday, there were about 360 applications for cannabis licenses, including retail, production, and manufacturing. Of those, just 53 have been approved.
That breaks down to 19 producer licenses, 19 micro producer licenses, three manufacturer licenses, and 12 retailer licenses. With people waiting for producer licenses and cannabis taking months to grow, some question if there will be enough product by April.
Jones said he applied for his retailer license about a month ago and is anticipating some supply and demand challenges when the selling starts in April.
“The customer base is out there ready to buy. Because my customer base comes in all the time asking, ‘are you going to be selling,’ and I say if I get the license,” said Jones. “They’re ready. You have the customers are already there. But are you going to have the product?”
On Monday, RLD went in front of the state’s senate finance committee to ask for more funding to get the new industry up and running. There is no limit on how many cannabis businesses can be in the state. But local entities are still deciding their rules like if a cannabis retailer can be near schools or in certain parts of town.