LAS CRUCES, New Mexico - If marijuana sales stay strong, the local industry could bring in $1 million in yearly tax revenue to Las Cruces, according to city staffers.
"This unexpected tax revenue - I would really like to see it go toward quality of life," said Councilwoman Johana Bencomo, who represents district four. "I really think cannabis can help us meet the challenges that we're currently facing as a community: challenges around homelessness and affordable housing. I hope this kind of revenue is exactly the impact we want it to make."
Legal recreational cannabis sales officially started on April 1st across New Mexico. According to the city of Las Cruces, legal cannabis retail sales are taxed at 12 percent, with one third of the tax revenue allocated to the city of Las Cruces. Medical sales are not taxed.
In the month of April, dispensaries within city limits brought in more than $82,000 in city tax revenue, according to a presentation at the Las Cruces City Council. In the month of May, local dispensaries brought in almost $71,000 in revenue.
City leaders discussed the possibility of investing the tax revenue into the Telshor Fund, which was originally intended to help sick and indigent people. However, the city has tapped into that fund during recent emergencies, like the Covid-19 pandemic.
If the city does invest the tax revenue into the Telshor Fund, Councilwoman Becky Corran emphasized the importance of "an added lens of equity" for people disproportionately affected by marijuana crimes.
Before deciding how to spend the city's tax revenue, Las Cruces City Councilors ultimately decided to wait to learn how the New Mexico leaders will spend the state's revenue.
"I would like to see the cannabis tax revenue be used for substance abuse, mental health and if homelessness if available," wrote Mayor Ken Miyagishima in a statement.