LAS CRUCES — After a few high-profile openings at midnight, the rest of the Las Cruces dispensaries approved to do business by the state and city opened for the sale of recreational cannabis on April 1.
Several dispensaries said the supply and variety of products remained limited, but none said they would not be able to meet demand on Friday. At some of the smaller mom and pop stores, customers were coming in and out throughout the morning and the wait times didn’t seem too long.
According to the New Mexico Cannabis Control Division, as of 4 p.m. Friday, $1,232,604 of non-medical cannabis had been sold since recreational cannabis sales became legal, while $501,920 of medical products had been sold. .
In a press release, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said 250 retailers across the state were “licensed and ready to go on day one.”
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At Organ Mountain Cannabis, a dispensary located at 1590 East Lohman Ave., manager Sebastian Suarez said a line formed when the store opened at 10 a.m. Friday morning, but throughout the morning, the wait was minimal to purchase products. All new customers were offered one-cent pre-rolled gaskets, he said.
“We started seeing people yesterday, coming in, asking if we were open,” Suarez said. Around 11:30 a.m. Friday, Suarez estimated that more than 100 people had already visited the store.
Suarez, who said he was a born and bred Las Crucen, was a medical patient before entering the industry. He said his first job was at the city’s PurLife dispensary. Now he oversees retail at Organ Mountain Cannabis.
Suarez said legalizing cannabis in New Mexico is for him a matter of restorative justice.
“I like how New Mexico tries to be relaxed with its laws,” Suarez said. “People who have been disenfranchised because of (the ban)… They are making it easier for all those people who have been affected by the fact that it is illegal to enter the business.”
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At other larger branded dispensaries, such as PurLife Dispensary and Everest Cannabis Co., long lines poured in. A Mexican food truck was present in the PurLife parking lot taking people’s orders as they waited.
Stephanie Trujillo, a medical cannabis patient who frequents PurLife at 755 South Telshor Blvd., waited to make a regular purchase around 12:30 p.m. Friday. She said she had never seen the business busier than Friday, with a queue at the door and around the corner. The lobby of the business center housing PurLife had been turned into a makeshift waiting room for customers.
Trujillo said she is happy that anyone over the age of 21 in New Mexico now has access to the medicinal benefits of cannabis.
“I think (cannabis) is a really good thing for a lot of people,” Trujillo said.
Alyssa Abeyta, 21, a student from Las Cruces, sat and waited for her name to be called so she could make a legal pot purchase at PurLife. Abeyta said she was interested in buying concentrate from the dispensary.
“I’ve used it before,” Abeyta said. “I have really bad anxiety, so it helps me with that. It helps me function a bit more. And I’m also a student, so I need a little de-stress.”
Abeyta said she was more assured of the quality of cannabis from the dispensary compared to cannabis that can be obtained on the street.
“By not buying it at a dispensary, there’s a bit of a risk,” Abeyta said. “A lot of people mix certain drugs with certain other chemicals. It’s really scary… It’s just nice to know that no one has those intentions or that I know directly where it came from (in a store) .”
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Evette Kirker, 23, says legalization is overdue and looks forward to cannabis being a product that can be bought “on the street”. Kirker said it was her first time buying from a New Mexico dispensary, although she has visited dispensaries in other states.
iCanna, at 505 North Valley Drive in a former auto repair garage, was one of the cannabis businesses that opened just after midnight on April 1. Partner Diajesma Orozco said the business attracted around 50 customers before closing hours later, some of whom left after queuing.
Although company sales have begun, iCanna’s retail space is a work in progress. A partition is still being finished, and the only other things in the room are two display cases and a small ATM.
Orozco reflected on legalizing her perspective as a Hispanic woman, calling it a “groundbreaking” moment.
“It’s something we’ve been waiting decades to change,” Orozco said.
But Orozco said the company has big plans for a stalk-to-table operation. They plan to grow their own cannabis and make it in the rest of the old garage. It’s still under construction. At the rear, iCanna plans to open a consumer space.
In the future, customers may be able to tour the production side of the business before being offered a sample of the on-site, brewery-like grown bud, Orozco said.
Algernon D’Ammassa contributed reporting.