The New Mexico adult-use cannabis market has continued its upward trend since legalization in April. The state has seen a boom in both revenue and consumer access, with sales continuing to grow as more distributors enter the market.
Cannaboom In New Mexico
Since legalization in April, the state has seen a cannabis explosion that has continued to grow throughout the year.
The adult-use market saw an increase in revenue and consumer access, with statewide sales hitting a new high in December with more than $28 million spent on recreational cannabis alone—the highest ever in a single month.
The number of cannabis retailers across the state has increased dramatically since legalization, with 563 dispensaries currently open for business. Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Las Cruces are leading the charge for recreational sales.
Compared to 866 dispensaries currently active in California and 123 active dispensaries in Arizona—New Mexico is shaping up to be a massive cannabis market both in the Southwest and across the nation as a whole.
The Medical Market
The recreational market is booming, but medical marijuana is suffering in New Mexico.
Data shows that since recreational became legal, medical cannabis sales have actually gone down a bit statewide. Those sales went from more than $17 million in April to about $15 million in December.
In other words, the medical market is doing well compared to the recreational one—but it’s not doing well compared to itself.
That’s not so different from what we saw in Arizona and Illinois, where the medical market is beginning to be destroyed by the more accessible recreational one.
New Mexico’s medical cannabis program has many things going for it—the most important being that it’s free to enter.
Well, the card is free. You’ll still have to pay any necessary medical fees, but the free card is a perk many people enrolled in medical programs nationwide can’t access.
In neighboring Arizona, anyone who wants to use medical cannabis must pay $150 upfront and then again every two years to maintain their medical card. In Illinois, getting a medical card can cost as much as $300.
In New Mexico, however, you can get a medical card without having to pay anything upfront. Simply fill out an application online and wait for it to be processed. Once your request has been approved, your card will be sent directly from the state government—free of charge!
While this may seem like something small, it could actually have huge implications for the future of New Mexico’s medical cannabis program: Low barriers to entry mean more patients are likely to participate in the program than in other states where there are high fees associated with getting started.
Will Medical Marijuana Survive The New Market?
In the midst of the healthcare crisis, we must ask ourselves: will medical marijuana survive the new market?
On the one hand, New Mexico is one of the easiest states in which to get a medical cannabis card. On the other hand, it’s hard enough for people to access regular medical care—let alone afford it—in our current healthcare system. So while recreational cannabis might be more accessible than ever before, that doesn’t mean people will want to use it instead of medical cannabis, which is often tax-free or cheaper.
Unfortunately, capitalism won’t let both thrive at once—and we’re afraid that medical is going to get pushed out of the market by recreational cannabis. State governments should keep their eyes on this issue and make sure that patients can still access affordable and effective medicines if they need them.
Recreational cannabis is doing really well in New Mexico, but it may be succeeding at the expense of the medical market.
This isn’t a problem for consumers, but it is a problem for patients.
The cannabis industry needs to be careful not to push out the medical market because people still need access to medical cannabis, especially since there aren’t enough doctors who can recommend it yet. We don’t want to see people without access to their medicine.
It would also be a mistake for states to let recreational and medical markets compete with each other too much. The two can coexist if we give them enough space and support them accordingly so that patients have access to both options and can choose which one works best for them at any given time.
Enjoyed that first hit? Come chill with us every week at the Friday Sesh for a freshly packed bowl of the week’s best cannabis news!