The joints are jumping - Albuquerque Journal

The joints are jumping

Steve Sanderson, from Española, is first in line to purchase cannabis from Nicolette Garcia, a bud tender at R. Greenleaf Organics dispensary in Santa Fe, Friday. Around a dozen people lined up at 7 a.m. to be the first to buy recreational cannabis. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

You’ve heard of Black Friday. April 1 in New Mexico turned into Green Friday as people lined up outside dispensaries across the state to purchase recreational cannabis legally for the first time.

Roughly 400 people stood outside a shop in Las Cruces for its midnight grand opening. In Sunland Park, many Texans flooded a border town dispensary. And in Albuquerque, customers waited eagerly for the chance to buy products such as Snoop’s Dream and Nightmare Cookies.

Customers at Everest Cannabis Co. were even greeted by the governor.

By 8 p.m. Friday, nearly 28,000 recreational customers had spent over $1.8 million on cannabis products.

“This is a dream come true,” said Victoria Gaona, co-owner of Dulce Cannabis, one of Albuquerque’s first approved retailers under the Cannabis Control Division.

It was also a dream come true for many customers.

A silver-haired man pulled up outside R. Greenleaf Organics in Santa Fe at about 7:45 a.m., rolled down his window and asked an employee if the dispensary was really open that early.

The employee replied yes, and the man, sporting a smile and expressing excitement, said he’d come back with his roommate.

“It feels good,” said Raymond Chavez, a 42-year-old Everest customer purchasing recreationally for the first time in New Mexico and who said he’s been using cannabis since he was 14. “I think it’s going to help our economy.”

Chavez purchased a Snoop’s Dream vape cartridge and three grams of flower called Nightmare Cookies. And Sarah Hennessey, 21, had purchased three grams of flower and a half gram of wax – both of which are indica dominant – from Everest on Friday.

“I think it’s going to help eliminate a lot of the kind of shady sales where you don’t really know what you’re getting, especially with (cartridges),” Hennessey said. “You don’t know what they’re putting in it. It’s nice that you can buy something that’s regulated.”

The retail sale of cannabis was a long time coming for New Mexico.

In 1999, then-Gov. Gary Johnson called for the legalization of marijuana. He was shut down at the time. But less than a decade later, in 2007, medical cannabis became legal in the state.

After a failed attempt at passing recreational cannabis in 2020 – and nearly another failure in 2021 – the Legislature in a 2021 special session approved the Cannabis Regulation Act, which was signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on April 12, 2021. That effectively legalized recreational marijuana in the state.

“I don’t think he gets enough credit for in the ’90s saying, ‘This doesn’t make any sense,'” Lujan Grisham told customers at Everest of Johnson’s vision of legalized cannabis in New Mexico.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham greets people waiting in line outside the Everest Cannabis Co.-Uptown on the first day of recreational cannabis sales in New Mexico. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

R. Greenleaf in Santa Fe opened at 7 a.m. Friday and a line of about a dozen customers waited patiently in cold weather to become some of the city’s first recreational cannabis customers.

Steve Sanderson, sporting basketball shorts and a gray Adidas hoodie, was R. Greenleaf’s first Santa Fe customer Friday morning. Though Sanderson, 35, is already a patient in the state’s medical cannabis program, he was excited about New Mexico beginning adult-use sales. He had purchased flower – Silver Kush and Skywalker OG.

“I’m excited to be here,” Sanderson, who is from Española, said. “This is just great for our state. I feel like our roads are going to be better. I used to be a teacher and I feel like all the school districts are going to get what they need for their students.”

Shantel Romero, 25, was one of the Santa Fe dispensary’s first recreational customers. Romero said she purchased flower and concentrates. It was her first time purchasing cannabis legally in New Mexico.

“I’m glad that we don’t have to worry about it so much now that the public’s going to be more accepting about it,” she said. “I’ll be coming here more often – definitely will.”

Duke Rodriguez, CEO and president of Ultra Health, said a line of about 300 people formed outside the company’s Sunland Park retail establishment Friday morning prior to its 10 a.m. opening. He said the store did more than $11,000 in sales in the first hour alone.

“(It’s) likely to be the single busiest dispensary in the state,” said Rodriguez, whose company Ultra Health is approaching 40 retail establishments statewide.

Jarryn Shaffner, center, from Albuquerque, and Jalen Jones, right, from Arkansas, wait with around 50 people in a line outside the Everest Cannabis Co.-Uptown to purchase cannabis products on the first day of recreational sales, Friday April 1, 2022. Jones said he came to Albuquerque to support the sale recreational cannabis. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Brian Kofke, a Colorado resident, walked up to the Everest Uptown location but didn’t purchase anything. He said he was unaware that sales started in New Mexico on Friday – he was next door at Total Wine – but said recreational cannabis is a “good thing for the community.”

“I’ve seen how it’s changed Colorado,” Kofke, 50, said. “I was there. I was one of the people who voted for it. … I think it’s been a good thing (for Colorado).”

Dulce customer Dirk Warner, 52, purchased marijuana from the dispensary Friday. He compared the day to the end of prohibition, which occurred in 1933.

“Our grandparents and maybe some people’s great-grandparents had a moment like this,” he said. “It’s like being part of a living history.”

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