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New Mexico cannabis sales hit nearly $40 million in first month

New Mexico cannabis sales hit nearly $40 million in first month

New Mexico cannabis sales revenue numbers

In its first month of recreational cannabis sales, New Mexico brought in nearly $40 million in revenue.

After launching its legal cannabis industry on April 1, the state made over $4 million in its opening weekend. Through the rest of the month, adult use sales across 40 cities in New Mexico sold $22 million worth of cannabis products.

The remaining $17 million was medical cannabis sales.

Medical cannabis sales are exempt from taxes unlike recreational sales, so there was no tax revenue generated from the $17 million in sales for the month. The majority of the state’s recreational sales were in Albuquerque, home to roughly 564,000 residents.

The city alone sold nearly $15 million in cannabis in April. The next highest revenue generated was in Las Cruces at only $2 million in adult use sales.

Las Cruces is also home to the state’s first licensed cannabis lounge where consumers can enjoy cannabis in a public setting.

New Mexico communities that border Texas also saw a fair amount of sales in the first month of adult use cannabis in the state. Hobbs and Sunland Park sold $1.7 and $1.4 million respectively, including medical and recreational cannabis sales.

An analysis from Sun-News found that Sunland Park had the third highest sales per capita, likely due to “cannabis tourism” from Texas and Mexico.

New Mexico cannabis sales are taxed at 12% for adult-use, plus additional taxes from local jurisdictions. Final tax revenue numbers won’t be announced until May 25, but with current data it is expected that the state will make about $2.6 million in tax revenue for the month.

Additionally, the 12% excise tax rate on adult-use cannabis sales is set to increase to 18% in 2025. This is still a lower tax rate than neighboring states Arizona and Colorado.

It is likely that the 4/20 holiday helped to boost recreational sales in the New Mexico’s first month. However the state’s director of the Cannabis Control Division, Kristen Thomson, is still satisfied with how the state performed and anticipates continued growth in the future.

“New Mexicans showed up on April 1 ready to support local businesses selling high-quality New Mexico products, and they’re still coming,” Thomson wrote.

“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 CCD has projected that the New Mexico cannabis industry will create up to 11,000 jobs statewide, with $300 million in sales and $50 million in tax revenue in its first year.

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting law pushed forward by lawmakers

Connecticut cannabis gifting could be banned

The underground Connecticut cannabis gifting community could be in for some trouble is legislators in the state get their way.

In a 98-48 vote, the Connecticut House of Representatives pushed forward legislation that would fine anybody who host a cannabis gifting event up to thousands of dollars. During the session, others argued that legalizing cannabis in Connecticut at all was a mistake that should be reverted.

Suffice to say there is disagreement in the legislature about the future of the industry in Connecticut, and it is going to have an impact on the industry there.

As it currently stands, cannabis is legal to possess for adults in Connecticut. However recreational cultivation for personal use won’t be an option until July 2023, and there is no regulated industry to speak of in the state.

In other words, cannabis is legal. It just can’t be grown recreationally or bought anywhere unless you’re a licensed medical cannabis patient. This has predictably created an underground market for those looking to obtain cannabis for personal consumption without a medical card.

What is cannabis gifting?

Cannabis gifting is by no means a new practice. It also isn’t exclusive to just Connecticut.

For example Washington D.C. legalized cannabis in 2015, but still doesn’t have a regulated industry due to barriers put in place by politicians during the legislative process. Now there is a thriving cannabis gifting industry in DC, with small shops tucked away across the city. There you can pay $45 for a sticker and receive an eighth of cannabis as a “gift”.

The donation/gifting method acts as a loophole under most cannabis laws that prohibit the illicit sale of cannabis outside of a licenses retailer. By gifting cannabis instead, it technically isn’t being sold and can’t be prosecuted.

It isn’t difficult to see why politicians would not be in favor of such a practice.

But with the current laws and delays in Connecticut, it was inevitable.

Some legislators are shaping the new bill not as a total restriction on cannabis gifting, but just organized events according to Democrat Rep. Michael D’Agostino.

“For right now, these bazaars are a way around the regulated marketplace,” D’Agostino said. As co-chairman of the legislative General Law Committee, he stressed that the bill would not prohibit true gifting events in which friends or acquaintances exchange or give each other cannabis without commercial transactions.

The legislation was originally proposed in response to events like the High Bazaar. There more than 1,000 visitors paid $20 or so to enter a warehouse in an industrial zone, where dozens of vendor tables would display cannabis in various forms, exchanging cash or other items of value for cannabis products.

Under the bill, those who sponsor these large gifting parties could be fined $1,000 by the state Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, and as much as $1,000 by local officials. The legislation isn’t entirely bad however.

The legislation also includes provisions to end the annual fees required of patients in the medical-marijuana program, saving patients about $5 million a year starting July 1, 2023. It would also permit physicians to write medical cannabis prescriptions, which would save patients more money and time.

The law also includes provisions strictly limited billboard advertising for cannabis companies, and completely bans it for out of state brands. Lastly, current cannabis cultivators would be allowed to undertake two more joint ventures, and towns and cities that are willing to host cannabis businesses, can now decide which businesses and how many could locate to their area.

Overall the legislation would appear to have more good than bad, with the main negative being the impacts on large cannabis gifting events. Small gathering of friends gifting each other cannabis products will still be allowed without repercussion. Medical cannabis patients will have quicker and more affordable access to their medicine, and in-state retailers will no longer have to worry about out of state competition.

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis could be going up in smoke

Virginia recreational cannabis dispensaries

When Glen Youngkin was elected Governor of Virginia after a heated race in 2021, many cannabis advocates began to question the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. Despite legalizing cannabis for recreational use earlier in the year, the state has yet to get the industry rolling in any real way.

It isn’t uncommon for a state to take more than a year or two to establish their regulatory framework and begin adult-use sales. However in Virginia’s case, cannabis was legalized by a Democrat governor, who was soon replaced by a Republican.

Youngkin holds a different view on cannabis compared to his predecessor, and now those views have begun impacting the future prospects of a recreational cannabis industry in Virginia.

On April 7, 2021, Virginia became the first state in the South to begin the process of legalizing adult-use cannabis. HB2312 (Herring) and SB1406 (Ebbin; Lucas), introduced by Governor Northam and passed by the 2021 General Assembly, lay out a three year process to legalize cannabis and create a regulatory framework for the sale of the product.

However while a recent General Assembly session saw lawmakers increase accessibility for medical cannabis patients, it failed to expedite Virginia recreational cannabis sales, and added new penalties for cannabis possession. So what happened?

The original bill as previously mentioned included a three-year timeline to implement regulations and framework for a recreational cannabis industry. The latest General Assembly session was voting on whether to shorten this timeframe, which would have expedited retail cannabis sales to this September.

However with the latest amendments to the original bills, it is unlikely that a Virginia recreational cannabis industry will be open by the original 2024 deadline.

Lobbyists influenced Virginia legislators into believing that it is safer for several large corporations to produce the products rather than having hundreds of small batch operations, according to Happy Trees co-founder Josiah Ickes. Happy Trees is a garden store supplying cannabis growers in the state.

“We have all these small breweries in Richmond,” Ickes said. “It would be kinda like if we said: ‘Oh, well look at all these small breweries, they need to go away because we don’t know if they’re creating safe beer.’”

Virginians will still be able to possess up to two ounces of cannabis flower for personal use without penalty. For comparison, in Colorado where cannabis has been legal since 2012, consumers are only allowed one ounce in their possession at a time.

Those who aren’t waiting for a legal cannabis industry to open up also have the option to grow their own cannabis. With the current framework and delay of a recreational industry, it is likely that a gift/donation industry will begin to develop in Virginia.

Coincidentally Virginia borders Washington, D.C., where cannabis is also legal but has no established industry. DC now has a thriving gift/donation industry where consumers will donate a certain amount in exchange for a gift (in the form of cannabis), creating a loophole where technically there isn’t a “sale” of cannabis happening.

There have been plenty of efforts to shut down this grey area industry, but efforts thus far have failed. With a successful market right next door, Virginians are likely to replicate these practices so people can still buy and sell their cannabis without technically breaking the law.

One of the positives to come out of the latest General Assembly meeting was regarding medical cannabis patients and their access to the products they need. Governor Youngkin recently signed new legislation which eliminated the requirement to register with the state Board of Pharmacy before being approved to purchase medical cannabis products.

Would be Virginia medical cannabis patients already have to get a referral from a medical provider in order to get access to cannabis. The latest amendment would appear to be simply removing an unnecessary step for patients.

When lawmakers originally approved the sale of low-concentration THC oil for medical patients in 2019, the Board of Pharmacy issued just 1,377 medical cannabis cards. That number grew to 7,135 in 2020, and ballooned to over 33,000 in 2021. The Board has issued over 10,000 cards from January to April 2022 already.

Brandy, a resident of Richmond, VA began smoking cannabis at age 15. Now 37, she grows plants in her home. Citizens can grow up to four plants legally per household.

Brandy has a state-approved prescription for cannabis to treat anxiety and bipolar disorder, but said she prefers growing cannabis as opposed to going to a dispensary, because it’s cheaper. Health insurance does not cover medical cannabis.

“In Virginia, it really sucks,” Brandy said. “You go in and they have the little half gram carts, and it’s $65.”

With a retail market still not established, Brandy said she prefers growing her own supply versus buying illegally from a dealer.

“This way I know exactly what goes in it,” Brandy said. “It’s all organic product, there isn’t chemicals in it.”

Currently there are only four state-licensed medical cannabis companies that can provide cannabis to patients in five health districts across Virginia. There are still several health districts that don’t have a single dispensary, making patients have to travel long distances to get their medicine.

Limited access, expensive pricing and the lack of a legal industry has put Virginia on a path that is leaving many unsure of the future of Virginia recreational cannabis. One can safely assume that there won’t a regulated, adult-use cannabis industry in the state until at least 2024.

However one can also expect to start seeing some semblance of an underground, grey market cannabis industry develop as consumers find ways to sell and purchase recreational cannabis without breaking the specific rules of the law.

First New York cannabis dispensaries to open on tribal land

First New York cannabis dispensaries to open on tribal land

New York cannabis dispensaries

The New York legal cannabis industry may be delayed by politicians and bureaucracy, but that isn’t stopping Native tribes from rolling out their own markets.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe based in Akwesasne will be the first to launch a regulated cannabis market in New York state. Beginning April 15, several Tribal businesses will open their doors to sell cannabis flower, edibles and other cannabis products to consumers.

The Tribe is able to do so thanks to their Adult Use Cannabis Ordinance. The ordinance states that adults 21 years old or older can transport, possess, and use up to three ounces of cannabis and up to 24 grams of concentrated cannabis.

Once New York legalized cannabis officially in 2020, the option to legalize the plant on tribal lands became more enticing. Not beholden to state laws and regulations regarding the plant, the Tribe was free to establish their own regulatory framework to permit sales and possession.

The Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe is also the first in the country to regulate and license tribal member-owned businesses for cannabis.

According to the Tribe, licensing fees collected from legal cannabis operations will be used to keep community members employed and fund a wide range of community services. Additionally the funds will help support educational scholarships, public safety, road maintenance, elder assistance, health care, and community organizations.

Tribal Chief Michael Conners said he believes the system will benefit the community while providing a safe product for consumers.

“We are confident that the hard work of the tribally licensed cannabis business owners will result in loyal customers from beyond Akwesasne,” Conners said. “We know that it took a while, but we are confident that our system is designed to provide quality product, in a regulated system, with Compliance oversight and a qualified Board of Managers to see that all regulations are followed for the safety of our community and consumers.”

Montana recreational cannabis sales top $43 million in first quarter of 2022

Montana recreational cannabis sales top $43 million in first quarter of 2022

Montana recreational cannabis dispensary sales

In its first three months of operation, Montana recreational cannabis sales have surpassed $43 million, resulting in nearly $9 million in tax revenue for the state.

According to the state’s Department of Revenue, Montana recreational cannabis produced $43,537,110 in sales, compared to medical cannabis which generated $29,373,731 in sales during the same period.

Voters approved a ballot initiative to legalize Montana recreational cannabis in 2020, the same year three other states — Arizona, South Dakota and New Jersey — passed similar measures. However state officials wouldn’t approve regulations for a legal cannabis marketplace until October 2021.

This late action created a short deadline for the state’s Department of Revenue Cannabis Control Division to build out the framework for legal sales in Montana.

“The deadlines are aggressive,” Kristan Barbour, administrator of the Department of Revenue’s Cannabis Control Division, said at the time. “Really, the rules are our biggest challenge.”

“Our focus was really to be business-friendly and to try to work with the industry in a fashion that makes the rules adaptable to their current business structure and that they’ll be able to evolve into without a whole lot of pain,” Barbour added.

However despite the delays and tight deadlines, the Montana recreational cannabis market opened right on time, New Years Day 2022. On January 1 an estimated 380 dispensaries opened their doors in 29 counties across the state.

The state brought in an estimated $1.5 millions in adult-use sales in the opening weekend, a number that would snowball over the next couple months. While money isn’t the only reason a state like Montana would legalize cannabis, it is at the top of the list.

According to the Marijuana Policy Project, states have generated over $11 billion in tax revenue through legal cannabis. On average, a state with adult-use cannabis sales generated more than $3.7 billion in total revenue in 2021.

However another growing reason for multiple states legalizing cannabis is the failing War on Drugs. In 2018, 40% (yes, 40%) of all drug arrests in the US were for cannabis, typically possession. Think about the resources and dollars that go into arresting, processing, and housing all of these mostly non-violent offenders.

In March the Montana Supreme Court issued temporary rules for procedures that would allow those with past cannabis-related convictions to have them expunged. The state’s new cannabis law says “anyone convicted of an offense that would now be legal in the state can petition to have their conviction removed from their record, get a lesser sentence for it or reclassify it to a lesser offense,” according to local television station KPAX.

Just for comparison, Oklahoma, an equally red state with just a medical cannabis program that launched in 2019 brought in nearly $500 million in its first year of sales. Then the state nearly doubled that number in 2020.

Comparatively Montana recreational cannabis sales seem pretty miniscule. However it has only been three months. Should the trend continue, the state could easily see over $200 million in sales its first year.