Regulated sales of cannabis hit record levels in New Mexico during October, with licensed sales of marijuana totaling nearly $40 million for the month, according to data released last week by the state’s Cannabis Control Division (CCD). October was the fourth straight month of record-breaking weed sales in New Mexico, where dispensaries launched regulated sales of adult-use cannabis in April.
Monthly sales of cannabis in October totaled $39.8 million, with recreational marijuana sales topping $25 million in New Mexico for the first time, according to CCD data updated on Thursday. Medical marijuana sales, however, saw a decline, dropping to $14.7 million last month, a new low since adult-use cannabis sales began earlier this year. Since April, dispensaries have sold a total of $161 million in recreational marijuana.
New Mexico Regulators Launch New Online Data Portal
The updated cannabis sales figures were provided via the state’s new Cannabis Reporting Online Portal, which began operating on Thursday afternoon. In addition to providing data on cannabis sales, the portal also offers other information on New Mexico’s cannabis industry, such as the number of licensed dispensaries operating in the state.
“A few months ago, CCD saw an opportunity to provide greater information about the New Mexico cannabis industry through a data portal similar to other states,” said Bernice Geiger, a spokeswoman with the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department. “We were able to capture data from our seed-to-sale software to further disseminate data in intuitive, customizable graphical form.”
Sales of adult-use cannabis were particularly strong in towns close to New Mexico’s border with Texas, where recreational marijuana is still illegal. In Sunland Park, sales of recreational marijuana topped $1.5 million in October, a new record for the town of only 20,000 residents. Hobbs, which sits along the border with west Texas, also saw a record-breaking month with $1.47 million in adult-use cannabis sales. Dispensaries in Clovis, also on the west Texas border, rang up $731,00 in recreational marijuana sales last month.
Reilly White, an associate professor with the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management, told the Albuquerque Journal that cannabis sales are likely to remain strong in New Mexico’s southern and eastern border towns as long as recreational marijuana remains against the law in neighboring Texas.
“We’re likely going to see continued growth in month-to-month cannabis sales as the market becomes more mature,” White said, noting that border towns in Colorado have seen a dip in sales since recreational marijuana sales began in New Mexico earlier this year.
Adult-use cannabis sales were also helped, White said, by the influx of tourists visiting New Mexico for the 50th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which brought thousands of visitors to the state during the first nine days of October. Albuquerque sales of recreational marijuana came to $8.1 million in October, a new record for the city.
“The Balloon Fiesta did result in a positive increase in sales for local cannabis firms, as greater tourism traffic boosted recreational use,” he said. “The big test ahead for the industry will likely be macroeconomic conditions in 2023 – if we have a recession, how will consumers cut back on recreational cannabis?”
Medical Marijuana Sales Decline
Despite the strong sales of adult-use cannabis, sales of medical marijuana in New Mexico continued to decline. Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of medical cannabis provider Ultra Health, said that the drop in medical marijuana sales can likely be attributed to patients who are now obtaining cannabis from recreational marijuana dispensaries.
“Medical sales are reclassified into adult-use sales,” Rodriguez said. “They’re just being transferred from one bucket to the other.”
Ben Lewinger, the executive director of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, said that other states have also seen a decline in medical marijuana sales following the legalization of adult-use cannabis. According to data from the New Mexico Department of Health, the number of medical marijuana patients in the state has dropped by 473 patients in the span of a year, with the total number of patients declining to 123,990 in September.
“We knew that the number of enrolled medical patients was going to contract, as it has in every other medical state that has shifted to adult use,” Lewinger said. “What’s important is that we continue to invest in the medical program by continuing to add more qualifying conditions so that more people can receive cannabis treatment, without paying taxes on their medicine.”
In August, after the state began its four-month run of record-breaking cannabis sales, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham commented on the economic opportunities presented by regulated adult-use cannabis.
“These numbers show that the impressive sales generated in the first month of legalized recreational cannabis sales were no fluke – and this is only the beginning,” Grisham said in a statement from the governor’s office. “We’ve established a new industry that is already generating millions of dollars in local and state revenue and will continue to generate millions more in economic activity across the state, creating thousands of jobs for New Mexicans in communities both small and large.”