By Thomas Howard, a seasoned cannabis industry consultant with 10 years of experience in New Mexico’s cannabis licensing process.
How to Get a Cannabis License in New Mexico: An Expert Guide
We have written numerous winning applications in open markets, like New Mexico, to complete application states, like New Jersey, and even highly competitive states like Illinois. We’ve helped clients get into lotteries that requires complete applications and social equity eligibility. We can help you win a license for emerging agriculture as well.
New Mexico’s Cannabis Market is open for qualified applicants! Dive into the intricacies of how to get a cannabis license in New Mexico with Thomas Howard, a veteran in the industry.
History of Cannabis in New Mexico
In 2007, Governor Bill Richardson signed a bill into law that legalized medical cannabis for general use. The state’s medical marijuana program has since expanded to include a wide range of qualifying conditions, including chronic pain, cancer, and epilepsy.
In 2019, the state legislature passed a bill to legalize adult use cannabis, but it was vetoed by Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. However, in 2021, the legislature passed a new bill to legalize recreational cannabis, and this time Governor Lujan Grisham signed it into law.
Understanding “the Cannabis Regulation Act” in New Mexico
The “Cannabis Regulation Act” in New Mexico, which came into effect on June 29, 2021, drastically transformed the cannabis business. It legalized both possession and sale while creating new business opportunities, and it’s crucial to understand it to ensure your cannabis venture in New Mexico is entirely compliant.
Whether you’re launching a dispensary, a cannabis production facility, or any other cannabis establishments you must navigate the act’s minute nuances. That covers different license types, regulatory compliances, and legalization terms so that your business operates smoothly within state laws and regulations.
Establishment of the Cannabis Control Division
The Cannabis Control Division, established as part of New Mexico’s legalization law, is responsible for overseeing and enforcing cannabis business and licensing regulations. This includes licensing, regulation, renewal of licenses and monitoring of all cannabis establishments within the state.
The establishment marked a turning point, propelling New Mexico into its new era of legalized recreational cannabis. With the Division in place, businesses had a clear path to compliance and regulation, which helped establish a trusted and regulated marketplace.
Impact of Cannabis Legalization in New Mexico
Cannabis legalization has had a profound impact on New Mexico’s economy. It has generated over $300 million in tax revenue in just one year, helping to fund essential public programs such as education and infrastructure.
Moreover, the cannabis industry in New Mexico has proven beneficial for small-business owners, encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit among residents.
Above all, it expanded the business landscape providing opportunities for entrepreneurs to innovate and explore this emerging market, fostering competition and growth.
How to Get a Cannabis License in New Mexico?
Start and prepare early
The application process for a cannabis license in New Mexico can be complex and time-consuming
Gather all of the required documentation
Hire an experienced Cannabis Lawyer/Consultant
An experienced attorney and consultant like our team of experts can help you with the application process for a cannabis license in New Mexico and ensure that your application is complete and accurate. An attorney can also help you to understand the complex regulations that govern the cannabis industry in New Mexico.
Have a solid business plan
The CCD will review your cannabis business plan to determine whether you are qualified to operate a cannabis business in New Mexico. It should include a detailed description of your business, your financial projections, and your marketing plan.
There are 8 types of cannabis licenses available in New Mexico, each with specific requirements. Businesses may apply for any license type, depending on their operation model.
Currently, the State of New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department does not have any limits on any cannabis license types.
Social Equity Program in New Mexico Cannabis
Pursuant to the Cannabis Regulation Act, Paragraphs (7) and (8) of Subsection B of Section 26-2C-3 NMSA 1978, the division must adopt procedures to promote and encourage full participation in the cannabis industry of representatives of communities that have disproportionately been harmed by rates of arrest through the enforcement of cannabis prohibitions and encourage racial, ethnic, gender, geographic diversity, and New Mexico residency among license applicants, licensees and cannabis industry employees. Policies must also encourage representatives from rural communities that are likely to be impacted by cannabis production, including agricultural producers from economically disadvantaged communities.
To accomplish these mandates, the division establishes a goal that at least fifty percent of applicants for licensure, licensees, and cannabis industry employees will represent these groups.
Different Types of Cannabis Licenses in New Mexico
- Cannabis Retailer License – A cannabis retailer is a person or business that has a license to sell recreational or medical cannabis products to consumers and patients who have a medical marijuana card, their caregivers, or people who are 21 years of age or older.
- Cannabis Producer/Cannabis Producer Microbusiness License – A cannabis producer is a business that’s allowed to operate a cannabis cultivation facility. Has unprocessed cannabis products tested by a third-party lab, and sells those products to other cannabis businesses. Micro-Producers’ cannabis production is 200 mature cannabis plants at any one time.
- Cannabis Manufacturer License – A cannabis processor is a business that has a license to turn cannabis plants into usable cannabis products, get those products tested by a third-party lab, and package them for retail sale or wholesale distribution.
- Vertical Integrated Cannabis Establishment License (VICE) – A Vertical Integrated Licensee is a business that is licensed to act as a manufacturer, producer, or retailer. This license also allows you to transport cannabis products.
- Integrated Cannabis Microbusiness License – Very similar to VICE but is only allowed to produce no more than two hundred total mature cannabis plants at a time.
- Cannabis Testing Laboratory License – A cannabis testing laboratory is a business that tests cannabis products for wholesale or retail use. It does not grow or possess cannabis plants for research purposes.
- Cannabis Courier License – A cannabis courier is a person or business that has a license to transport medical cannabis products to qualified patients, primary caregivers, reciprocal participants, or consumers.
- Cannabis Consumption Area – Cannabis consumption areas are licensed spaces where people can legally consume cannabis products. Alcohol cannot be sold or consumed in these areas. Local governments can choose to allow or deny cannabis consumption area licenses.
To conquer the cannabis industry in New Mexico, understanding the different types of cannabis business licenses, state laws, and regulations is crucial.
It is important to read the list of fees and requirements on New Mexico’s website to understand what the required documentation is, and how much it will cost to apply for and maintain a medical cannabis license. Every license has different required documents and different fees.
Cannabis License Applicant Requirements Checklist
- Social and Economic Equity Plan:
The social and economic equity plan should describe the applicant’s plan to encourage economic and social diversity in employment.
- Provide valid “Proof of Age” for every controlling person:
Proof of age includes identification issued by a federal or state government that includes the name, date of birth, and picture of the applicant or the controlling person.
- Water and Energy Usage Plan:
Documentation from a water provider that the applicant has the right to use water from the provider and that the use of water for cannabis production is compliant with provider’s rules.
- “Authorization for Release of Information Form” for each controlling person listed in the application.
Each controlling person listed in the application must complete an Authorization for Release of Information form. The form can be found on the division website.
- Background checks:
Consent to undergo a national criminal history background check and department of public safety (DPS) statewide criminal history screening background check.
- Ensure your business’s compliance with retail, transport, security, and quality assurance laws at all federal, state, and local levels.
- Pledge adherence to all regulations governing the specific license type that you’re applying for.
- Maintain a premise diagram at each licensed premise, available for inspection as requested.
- Assure that all documents filed with the New Mexico Secretary of State affirm your business’s good standing.
Cannabis Producer License: $2,500.00 Annual License Fee | Micro-Producer $1000 Annual Fee
Cannabis Manufacturer License: $2,500.00 Annual License Fee
Cannabis Retailer License: $2,500.00 Annual License Fee
Vertically Integrated Cannabis Establishment License: $7,500.00 annual license fee
Integrated Cannabis Microbusiness License: $1,000.00 annual fee for two (2) activities; additional $500 per activity. Up to 5 Cannabis Activities.
For more, check out New Mexico’s Annual Fees.
Attestations and Compliance
Attestations are a crucial part of the cannabis licensing process in New Mexico. Here, prospective licensees must comply with the Cannabis Regulation Act, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, and division rules.
Compliance is key. Violations can lead to the suspension or revocation of your license.
Non-compliance could also result in your application being canceled or rejection of your license renewal. Therefore, understanding and respecting these attestations is fundamental to maintaining your cannabis license in New Mexico.
Navigating the Application Process
New Mexico Cannabis Landscape can be very complex to navigate. Having a comprehensive understanding of the New Mexico Cannabis Control Division Online License Application System significantly simplifies the procedure.
We’ve helped numerous clients win their licenses in New Mexico. Our team of Experts would love to help you secure that cannabis business license and stay Compliant with the State’s Regulations.
Each of these licenses comes with its own set of challenges and responsibilities. It’s crucial to stay updated with the ever-evolving regulations by regularly checking the official New Mexico government pages. As the cannabis industry in New Mexico continues to flourish, ensuring compliance and understanding the nuances of each license type will pave the way for a successful venture.
In conclusion, navigating New Mexico’s cannabis licensing process requires thorough preparation. Familiarity with legal requirements, detailed documentation, and a strategic plan make a difference.
As we reflect on this journey, remember it’s not just about getting a license—it’s about building a responsible, sustainable business in an emerging industry. Best way to do it? Reach out to Cannabis Experts who helped cannabis businesses secure their license, get operational and remain compliant with the State’s Regulations.
About the Author
Tom Howard, Cannabis Industry Lawyer and Consultant. Mr. Howard has practiced commercial law since 2008 when he graduated law school and got his Series 7 & 66 Securities licenses. He pivoted to practicing litigation for financial institutions before helping cannabis teams form, capitalized and get licensed. He has concentrated in the cannabis business since Illinois legalized in 2019. He won licenses for clients in Illinois, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Missouri and has gotten into lotteries in Ohio, Maryland and Maine. He became
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