SANTA FE, New Mexico - With fewer than three months until all adult New Mexicans can legally buy cannabis, the state has raised the limit on the number of plants producers can grow.
“We have been listening to producers, consumers and patients who are as committed as the Cannabis Control Division is to supporting a thriving cannabis-industry in New Mexico,” wrote Kristen Thomson, the director of the Cannabis Control Division, in a news release. “Doubling the plant count for licensed producers makes sense to ensure that everyone can maximize the benefits of a thriving cannabis industry.”
The new plant-count numbers for producers are:
- Level 1: 401 – 2,000 mature cannabis plants;
- Level 2: 2,001 – 6,000 mature cannabis plants;
- Level 3: 6,001 – 12,000 mature cannabis plants; or
- Level 4: 12,001 – 16,000 mature cannabis plants.
As ABC-7 reported last year, multimillion dollar company Ultra Health was one of the biggest critics of the state's limit on the number of plants producers could grow.
"Unfortunately, this increase may be too little, too late," wrote a spokeswoman for Ultra Health on Monday. "Sales to adults will commence in 74 days, and it takes twice as long, 5 months, for cannabis to be fully prepared from seed to sale. We are running on a deficit to support 130,000 patients today, so to think this new rule would somehow alter the biological processes required to grow cannabis is naive, at best."
“The state is capping the potential of the program," said Armando Rascón, the company's director of cultivation, in October. “Unfortunately, there will be a shortage."
The New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department oversees the Cannabis Control Division. The RLD Secretary told ABC-7 that New Mexico lawmakers set plant count limits to prevent a surplus of cannabis.
“What happens when you have an overflow is the market declines, the cost of cannabis drops," said Superintendent Linda Trujillo in October. "People lose out. Their businesses suffer.”
However, micro producers in the state are still limited to 200 or fewer plants. According to the state, the micro producer limit was set by state law, so lawmakers must increase the limit.
"Having the smaller craft cannabis producers is really key in a market like this," said Chad Lozano, a contract grower and host of a podcast, NMCannacast.
He said the increase in plant counts will make it more difficult for smaller growers to catch up or compete with the larger, multimillion dollar corporations.
"We're going to have this corporate cannabis," Lozano explained. "It's probably going to be very cheap."