Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Recreational cannabis sales finish year on a high note

Customer Lynn Honyestewa, left, shops at Seven Point Farms Cannabis on January 4, 2023, with the help of key holder Wyatt Lawson-Hall at the Albuquerque dispensary. December was the state’s highest recorded sales month to date. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2023 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico’s cannabis industry capped off 2022 with a bang as recreational cannabis sales skyrocketed to a new high and medical sales picked up after months of decline.

Sales figures released this week from the Cannabis Control Division show that the state did slightly more than $28 million in recreational cannabis sales in December – a $3 million increase from October, the last record-breaking sales month for the recreational industry.

Medical cannabis sales also increased to $15.1 million, an increase from roughly $14 million in November and after four months of decline dating back to August.

The state’s acting director for the CCD, Andrew Vallejos, called the record-breaking number for recreational sales and an increase in medical sales a surprise – but a welcomed one.

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“I don’t know exactly what attributed to certainly the increase both in medical and recreational, as a bump up in December, but it was kind of surprising to us to see how robust those numbers were,” he said. “… The sales (numbers) are interesting in and of themselves, but what I’m encouraged by is the fact that it means a steady cash flow for (businesses) to stay open and to make a profit.”

Overall, recreational sales numbers from April through December stood at more than $214 million. On the medical side, sales numbers through the same time period were about $144.2 million, the data shows.

That means New Mexico is likely to near or surpass the $300 million sales prediction for recreational cannabis in year one by industry experts if sales through April 2023 keep at the current pace.

For Ben Lewinger, the executive director of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, December’s recreational sales numbers tell the story of small towns thriving in the state’s newest industry.

“This is very impressive on a statewide, macro level, but I think what’s more indicative of the early success of this industry is when you look at smaller, rural communities,” Lewinger said. “Places like Alto, Cloudcroft, Raton and Tularosa each boast more than 10,000 total transactions for the month of December. That’s tax revenue for those municipalities and their counties, as well as for the state.”

Indeed, small towns have fared well month over month in recreational cannabis sales – especially those that border Texas.

Sunland Park had its best month to date, surpassing $2 million in recreational sales for the first time. Hobbs also had a record-breaking sales month, standing at $1.7 million last month. And Clovis did $831,975 in recreational sales, its best month to date and the first time the town has surpassed $800,000 since April.

Albuquerque, on the other hand, continues to lead all other cities and towns in recreational cannabis sales – December proving to be the city’s best month yet at $8.4 million. On the medical side, Albuquerque did slightly more than $6 million in sales last month.

Las Cruces did nearly $2 million in recreational cannabis sales, its second-best month to date. And Santa Fe did $1,997,410 in sales, its best month to date.

Recreational sales continue to make up a majority of overall cannabis transactions at about 68% and in sales at about 65%, the data shows. But the average sale per transaction for medical cannabis continues to hover above adult-use, with December’s numbers showing medical patients on average spent $52.57 compared with $45.31 for recreational.

“I think there’s still that incentive for medical patients with the tax structure – not having to pay the point-of-sale excise tax for medical product – keeping that market still relatively affordable for those people that use cannabis for palliative or therapeutic reasons,” Vallejos said.

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