Recreational cannabis sales maintain upward trend - Albuquerque Journal

Recreational cannabis sales maintain upward trend

Cannabis sales in New Mexico’s border towns are booming. Ultra Health’s dispensary in Sunland Park is one of a handful of dispensaries located within a half-mile of each other. Pictured is Ultra Health District Manager Jesus Muñoz, right. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico broke another record for monthly sales of adult-use cannabis in October, when the 50th Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta brought thousands of travelers to the state.

Recreational sales stood at more than $25 million in October – a first since sales began in April, and the fourth straight month of record-breaking sales, according to the Cannabis Control Division.

While adult-use sales have seen an uptick, medical sales have continued to take a nosedive.

Sales numbers for medical cannabis stood at $14.7 million last month – a new low in the age of recreational cannabis sales, according to the CCD data.

Overall, sales numbers for October stood at nearly $39.8 million. And, to date, recreational sales combined have brought in more than $161 million through seven months.

The updated sales numbers for October came through the new Cannabis Reporting Online Portal, which went live Thursday afternoon on the CCD website. The portal also tracks plant counts, the number of dispensaries in the state and other relevant metrics relating to the cannabis industry.

“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,” Regulation and Licensing Department spokeswoman Bernice Geiger said. “We were able to capture data from our seed-to-sale software to further disseminate data in intuitive, customizable graphical form.”

Border towns, ABQ

Recreational sales remain strong in New Mexico’s border towns, which so far have made up about a third of overall adult-use sales.

Sunland Park, for instance, did more than $1.5 million in adult-use sales last month. That was the best month yet for the town of less than 20,000, whose cannabis customers are largely Texans.

Hobbs, which borders West Texas, also saw another record-breaking sales month on the adult-use side with about $1.47 million made in October. Clovis, which also borders West Texas, did $713,010 in adult-use sales.

Reilly White, an associate professor with the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management, told the Journal sales are likely to remain strong in New Mexico’s southern and eastern border towns so long as recreational cannabis remains illegal in Texas.

“We’re likely going to see continued growth in month-to-month cannabis sales as the market becomes more mature,” White said, noting Colorado’s border towns have seen a drop in sales since New Mexico began adult-use cannabis sales.

In Albuquerque, adult-use sales stood at $8.1 million in October – the best month to date for New Mexico’s largest city. Las Cruces did about $1.73 million in recreational sales and Santa Fe did $1.84 million – a decline from September – according to the data.

White said some of Albuquerque’s success on the adult-use side may be attributable to the Balloon Fiesta.

“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 decline

According to data from the New Mexico Department of Health, the number of patients in the state’s medical program stood at 123,990 in September. That’s a year-over-year drop of 473 patients.

But the drop-off has largely been noticeable since adult-use sales began, as the state has seen a decrease of more than 10,000 patients since April, according to DOH data.

That drop in the medical program’s enrollees has largely been represented in sales numbers, too. Since April, when medical sales stood at $17.4 million, medical cannabis sales have dropped nearly $3 million, according to the data.

Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of Ultra Health, said the increase in adult-use sales is likely attributable to medical patients who are no longer in the program, and who are purchasing cannabis recreationally.

“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 it is common knowledge that medical sales start to decrease in states that have also legalized cannabis recreationally – something New Mexico is currently seeing.

“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.”

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