A second Corrales business has been  approved to sell recreational marijuana. Fawn Dolan, owner of Corrales Hemporium at Corrales Road and East Ella, learned June 15 that her site development plan related to recreational cannabis sales from the Village had been unanimously approved by Planning and Zoning. Dolan plans to install a small display case measuring about six feet by two from which recreational cannabis products will be sold. The business already has a license from state regulators to sell those products.

And in fact, April, the first month of legal recreational cannabis was not the cruelest month for New Mexico businesses’ sales. According to the N.M. Legislation and Licensing Department Cannabis Control Division, one month into the legal sale of such cannabis, vendors sold $22.1 million worth of it. Albuquerque retailers made over $8 million in sales that month.

The Cannabis Control Division reported that during the month of May “retailers around the state sold nearly $39 million in adult-use and medical cannabis combined.” The division “will continue to release sales numbers on a monthly basis, with data being available at the beginning of each month for the month prior.”  See http://www.rld.nm.gov.

Corrales’ first store to sell cannabis, Southwest Organic Products (SWOP),  has become  a retailer for both medical and recreational cannabis; it sold close to $90,000 worth of the two products in May, down a bit from April sales of about $104,000.

Ultra Health, the state’s largest cannabis dispenser, said to control 40 percent of the N.M. market, has warned that supply issues may need to be addressed, however. Cannabis Times reported in April that in January, “the CCD issued an emergency rule that doubled the number of cannabis plants that licensed producers can grow from 10,000 to 20,000 mature plants in an effort to protect patients’ supply of medical cannabis as demand spiked with the launch of adult-use sales.”

“To ensure adequate supply, a spokesperson for Ultra Health said, “Another rule change may be necessary to either further increase the plant count limit or remove it entirely.” Ultra Health currently has 38 dispensaries in New Mexico. SWOP has eight, the newest of which just opened this month on Nob Hill in Albuquerque.

The SWOP outlet operating in Corrales since June 2021 was a long time in coming. Although the site development plan application was approved by the Village Planning and Zoning Commission on November 20, 2019, assorted hoops required jumping through, or what P&Z Administrator Laurie Stout described soon thereafter as “applicable state and federal agencies on their specific requirements.” 

At that time, a long-time Corrales cannabis grower, Tom Murray, explained to P&Z prior to their positive ruling that he was “the first cannabis producer in Corrales, and one of the first four in New Mexico.” Murray emphasized the gross receipts coming to the Village via a retail outlet would be based on an estimated “$4.2 million of revenue that will originate through that point of sale and will include a good portion of customers outside of the village.” 

New Mexico became the 17th state to legalize recreational use, and state officials are anticipating recreational marijuana sales to top $300 million this year. On the first day of legal sales of recreational pot, customers spent more than $1.9 million, according to the N.M. Cannabis Control Division.

Financial news for medical marijuana businesses here is robust. In February of this year Ultra Health announced it will receive a $7.4 million refund for improperly withheld gross receipts tax after the New Mexico Supreme Court determined that medical cannabis purchases should be treated like any other medication, and not be subject to New Mexico Gross Receipts Tax.

Meanwhile, in alignment with the April 1 legal sales event, the N.M. Department of Transportation launched a new, cannabis-focused campaign to discourage marijuana users from getting behind the wheel when they could be substantially impaired.

“Impairment is impairment,” transportation secretary Mike Sandoval said, “it doesn’t matter whether it’s alcohol or cannabis. Driving while intoxicated on any substance is dangerous and illegal. If  you are impaired and driving erratically or unsafely, you could be arrested for DWI. The law is the same.”

Thus far evidently Corrales Police has not pulled over any drivers too stoned to maneuver safely in the Village.

Meredith Hughes

Meredith Hughes is a Coraleño and contributor to The Comment.

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