New Mexico state regulators are calling the first month of commercial adult-use cannabis sales a success on the heels of more than $22.1 million recorded by licensed retailers.
That figure is in addition to $17.3 million in medical cannabis sales, bringing the combined total to nearly $39.5 million, according to the state’s Cannabis Control Division (CCD).
CCD officials commended the first-month benchmark as an indication of a strong market and supply that have made the new industry a boon to New Mexico’s economy.
“New Mexicans showed up on April 1 ready to support local businesses selling high-quality New Mexico products,” CCD Director Kristen Thomson said. “And they’re still coming. Thanks to hard work by the dedicated people working in the industry, supply easily met consumer and patient demand. New Mexicans have a lot to be proud of in the launch of this new industry, which is already adding value to the state’s diverse economy.”
The state’s most populous city of more than 560,000 residents, Albuquerque recorded the highest numbers with $8 million in adult-use cannabis sales and nearly $6.9 million in medical cannabis sales, or roughly 38% of the state’s overall sales figures for April.
Meanwhile, Las Cruces, with roughly 110,000 residents, recorded nearly $2.1 million in adult-use and $1.6 million in medical sales for the month. Santa Fe (87,500 residents) recorded more than $1.8 million in adult-use and $1.6 million in medical sales.
In addition, communities near the Texas border also posted high sales numbers, with Hobbs ($1.3 million in adult-use and $422,000 in medical) and Sunland Park ($1.2 million in adult-use and $225,000 in medical) rounding out the top five cities by sales, according to the CCD.
Overall, adult-use cannabis accounted for 56.1% of sales for April.
Retail business was boosted by five Fridays and five Saturdays for the month, as well as spikes associated with the state’s April 1 launch, which included roughly $2.7 million in combined sales, and the April 20 holiday, when dispensaries recorded $2.2 million in combined sales.
Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of Ultra Health, the largest cannabis company in New Mexico with 38 dispensaries serving both medical and adult-use customers in the state, pointed out those factors and more.
“Keep in mind, we were doing $20 million a month on medical in 2021,” he told Cannabis Business Times. “So, we’re seeing a deterioration on medical. Now, whether it’s migrating over to adult, we can’t say yet. But the reality is that we are seeing a deterioration on the medical sales compared to last year, and the adult sales did not hit our target.”
Rodriguez said the retail target in New Mexico should, in part, be based on comparisons to Montana, which launched its adult-use retail program on Jan. 1, 2022. During that inaugural month, Montana’s licensed retailers sold more than $14.1 million in adult-use cannabis and $10.1 million in medical cannabis (nearly $24.3 million combined), according to the state’s Department of Revenue.
Montana’s population of 1.07 million is roughly 51% of New Mexico’s population of 2.1 million, but its overall sales for its first month represented 61.5% of New Mexico’s.
In addition to proximity of their adult-use launch dates, Montana and New Mexico are similar in certain aspects, Rodriguez said.
“Montana’s the fourth largest landmass. [New Mexico is the] fifth largest landmass,” he said. “We’re both highly rural populations. But New Mexico has a huge advantage over Montana: No. 1, we are twice their population. No. 2, we border against the second most populous state in the country—Texas.”
While Rodriguez acknowledged that not all months are the same, he said fears have been raised based on those comparisons. With Montana recording $25.4 million in combined adult-use and medical sales in April, he said he believes New Mexico’s numbers should have been twice that.
Although only a handful of days have been logged in the May sales books, Rodriguez said Ultra Health’s retail operations have experienced very little change from April, aside from the absence of the April 1 launch and 4/20 surge.
Overall, New Mexico retailers averaged a combined $1.3 million per day in adult-use and medical sales throughout April.
The first tax payments from adult-use cannabis sales are due on May 25, and data on state revenue from those sales will be available after that date, according to CCD.
Moving forward, the division will release sales numbers on a monthly basis.