New Mexico Cannabis Attorneys

New Mexico has had an active medical cannabis program since 2007 but it was not until the Cannabis Regulation Act was signed in 2021 that recreational cannabis was legalized in the state.

The amended New Mexico laws now allow a limited amount of home-grown cannabis and licenses have been made available for entrepreneurs looking to convert their interest in cannabis into a commercial enterprise.

As with other states that have legalized adult-use cannabis, various licenses are available for operating in different parts of the cannabis industry here.

Universal to all licenses granted in New Mexico is a rigorous vetting process and a series of compliance requirements that demand continuous attention after the business is operational.

These are exciting times for cannabis business entrepreneurs in New Mexico but the industry is so heavily regulated that to succeed here, you will need to understand and follow the rules closely.

Violations can result in administrative penalties and unlicensed growers, processors, transporters or retailers can face felony charges that may lead to life-changing convictions.

The cannabis attorneys at Cannabis Law Solutions are based in New Mexico and have been involved in the emerging cannabis industry here for many years.

Our comprehensive understanding of the regulations can help you navigate the complex legal landscape and capitalize on the business opportunities available.

Laws for cannabis possession (personal use) in New Mexico

The New Mexico laws for possession of cannabis for personal use are as follows:

Up to two ounces 

  • No criminal offense, no incarceration and no fine

Between two and eight ounces 

  • Misdemeanor criminal offense with up to one year in prison and a $1,000 fine

More than eight ounces 

  • Felony offense with up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine

Laws for distribution of cannabis or possession with the intent to distribute in New Mexico

The New Mexico laws for distribution of cannabis or possession with the intent to distribute are as follows:

100 pounds or less (first offense)

  • Felony offense with up to 18 months in prison and a $5,000 fine

100 pounds or less (second offense)

  • Felony offense with up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine

100 pounds or more (first offense)

  • Felony offense with up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine

100 pounds or more (second offense)

  • Felony offense with up to nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine

To a minor (first offense)

  • Felony offense with up to three years in prison and a $5,000 fine

To a minor (second offense)

  • Felony offense with up to nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine

Within a drug-free school zone

  • Felony offense with up to 18 years in prison and a $15,000 fine

Laws for the cultivation of cannabis in New Mexico

The New Mexico cannabis cultivation laws are as follows:

Up to six mature plants:

  • No criminal offense, no incarceration and no fine

More than six mature plants (first offense):

  • Felony offense with up to nine years in prison and a $10,000 fine

More than six plants (second offense):

  • Felony offense with up to 18 years in prison and a $15,000 fine

Within a drug-free school zone

  • Felony offense with up to 18 years in prison and a $15,000 fine

How can you obtain an adult-use cannabis business license in New Mexico?

The legalization of cannabis in New Mexico is widely welcomed for the thousands of new jobs it will create and the revenue it will raise for the state.

With sales of adult-use cannabis starting in April 2022, applications for a cannabis business license can be filed with the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) of New Mexico.

An online application portal is available to start the process, which is a big improvement on the previous manual system designed for medical cannabis license applicants, which required considerable paperwork.

Still, before starting your application, you should be clear on the extensive list of requirements (see below). Different rules have been designed for retailers, testing facilities and other cannabis sectors but all face stringent eligibility requirements.

Opportunities exist for entrepreneurs of all sizes to enter the adult-use cannabis industry in New Mexico. Licenses are available for microbusinesses with a few employees as well as larger and more resource-rich businesses.

To obtain a license, you will need to provide the CCD with the necessary documentation and information according to its guidelines.

What types of cannabis licenses are available in New Mexico?

New Mexico has made 10 different licenses available for businesses operating in different areas of the cannabis industry and for different sizes of business.

The following types of licenses are currently available to business owners here:

  • Cannabis consumption area license
  • Cannabis courier license
  • Cannabis manufacturer license
  • Cannabis producer microbusiness license
  • Cannabis producer license
  • Cannabis research laboratory license
  • Cannabis retailer license
  • Cannabis testing laboratory license
  • Integrated cannabis microbusiness license
  • Vertically integrated cannabis establishment license

Microbusinesses in New Mexico

Producer microbusinesses may grow up to 200 mature plants at a time. Integrated microbusinesses can cultivate cannabis, produce infused products, and/or operate a single retail location.

What is required to apply for a cannabis business license in New Mexico?

Before you can legally operate a cannabis business in New Mexico, you need the required state and municipal licenses.

The state license application system in New Mexico is a little more advanced than in some other states. The online portal makes things easier logistically but you still need to be able to navigate the stringent requirements for license application approval.

You must include detailed information about every “controlling person” involved in the business. As the main applicant, you will need to provide your full name, address, contact number, email address, web address, business hours, proof of age (over 21) as well as demographic data under the Cannabis Regulation Act.

You will also need to include the following in your application to the CCD:

  • Agreement for criminal history screening from all of the owners in the business
  • Security plan
  • Fire safety plan
  • Construction plan
  • Plans for the recall of cannabis, chain of custody, wastage and transportation

License application fees in New Mexico vary from $250 annually for a single courier license up to $7,500 for a vertically integrated cannabis establishment license

Once you submit your application for a license, the Cannabis Control Division has 90 days to respond.

New Mexico’s social equity program

There is a recognition within the Cannabis Regulation Act that certain communities in New Mexico have suffered disproportionately from arrests and other enforcement measures from past cannabis prohibition laws.

To address this and encourage racial, ethnic, and gender diversity, the terms of the Act include provisions for these communities to participate in license applications, and to be actively involved in the industry as licensees and employees.

Representatives from rural communities likely to be impacted by cannabis production are encouraged to step forward, including agricultural producers from economically disadvantaged communities.

The goal is for at least 50 percent of license applicants, licensees, and cannabis industry employees to be from such groups.

How long do cannabis business licenses last in New Mexico?

If your application for a New Mexico cannabis business license is approved, you will receive a 12-month license.

You will need to renew your license annually by completing a license renewal application through the Cannabis Control Division’s online portal. You should receive a notice for license renewal from the division before this date.

It’s best to renew and pay for the annual license fee between 60 and 30 days before it expires. The division may initiate disciplinary action for late license renewals.

Cannabis business legal planning, advice and support in New Mexico

Whether you want to grow, manufacture, retail or otherwise be part of the burgeoning cannabis industry in New Mexico, the legal hurdles are likely to be substantial.

Our cannabis business attorneys can provide the knowledge and support you need to plan, incorporate, protect, and grow a successful cannabis business.

For informed legal advice, call 866-329-0729 for a consultation with a knowledgeable cannabis attorney at Cannabis Law Solutions.

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How will our cannabis services help you?

Cannabis business entity formation

Whether you are looking to form a limited liability company (LLC) or a corporation, our experienced business lawyers can discuss the pros and cons of both and help you incorporate your business with the optimal structure to achieve your goals.

Cannabis business licenses

If you want to run a cannabis business, you will need a valid business license issued by your state authority as well as local permits. Eligibility criteria are likely to be stringent and we can help you navigate the often-complex license application process.

Cannabis corporate documentation

Whether you need to prepare for a license application, transfer of business ownership, change of corporate structure, transfer business location, or another business process, we can help you identify and draft the documentation you need to operate legally in your state.

Cannabis administrative law

State authorities watch licensed and unlicensed cannabis businesses closely. If you violate regulations, you could face an administrative penalty. Our attorneys can provide representation or help you prepare for an administrative hearing, settlement conference or appeal.

Cannabis disputes and litigation

Whether you have a dispute with another business, a legal issue with one of your partners or a licensing or administrative issue, you may need legal assistance to help resolve it. We are adept at alternative dispute resolution methods as well as civil litigation.

Regulatory compliance

As the cannabis industry emerges in states around the U.S., it is more heavily regulated than most other industries. We can help your business navigate the red tape and plan to stay on the right side of the regulatory authorities in whichever state you are based.