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New Mexico’s first recreational marijuana stores open with ‘full-on party’ vibe

After waiting nearly a full year since legalizing marijuana for all adults last April, New Mexicans will finally get their chance to purchase legally on Friday, April 1, 2022—and Leafly will be there to cover it.

Leafly will offer live coverage of New Mexico’s opening day of retail cannabis sales, all day long.

We’ll have live on-scene reports throughout the morning from Chris Kudialis, Leafly’s Southwestern correspondent, as well as a lively mix of photos, quotes, anecdotes, and social media chatter curated by Leafly Senior Editor Bruce Barcott.

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Raymond Chavez, 42, stands in front of Everest Uptown dispensary in Albuquerque after making a purchase Friday morning during New Mexico’s recreational cannabis sales launch. Two grams of Nightmare Cookies flower and an 88% THC concentrate cost him $90. (Chris Kudialis photo)

Everything kicks off in Santa Fe on Friday morning at 7 a.m., when R. Greenleaf Dispensary will make the first legal sales of cannabis in the state’s regulated retail marijuana era.

Dozens of other licensed stores in Santa Fe and Albuquerque—where a local ordinance prevents cannabis shops from opening before 8 a.m. — will start between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m.

“People can expect a full-on party with a DJ and food trucks,” said Jessie Hunt, an executive with R. Greenleaf’s parent company, Schwazze. “We are ready to serve every customer that comes to our doors, that’s for sure.”

All of New Mexico’s 118 currently-operating medical marijuana dispensaries are scheduled to open their doors to adult customers on Friday, marking a key milestone in the legalization movement. Follow along as we chronicle the first day of sales and provide hourly updates on the ground in New Mexico.

Related
A complete guide to New Mexico’s marijuana products

Early returns: $650k in sales in one morning

The early results are in: New Mexico’s new adult-use cannabis stores sold more than $650,000 in weed products through 12 noon on Friday, despite a glitch in point of sale software that delayed many dispensaries from making their first sales until almost 10 a.m.

Recreational cannabis accounted for 72.4 percent of the sales, with medical marijuana taking the other 26.4 percent. Dispensaries made 8,426 total transactions before noon, putting the average ticket just over $77, according to New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division.

Texas in the house

Competition is fierce in Albuquerque

As he waited in line outside a Southwest Cannabis dispensary in Albuquerque, customer José Paredes got a tap on his shoulder.

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An employee from nearby dispensary Seven Clovers smiled at Paredes and handed him a poker chip. On the back of the chip was a sticker that advertised a 10% discount to shoppers who brought the poker chip back to Seven Clovers.

The Seven Clovers employee distributed the rest of her chips to the other people in line before quickly pacing out of sight.

“A dispensary advertising drive by,” Paredes joked.

Best sign of the times in NM

What’s the hot item so far?

Everest CEO Trishelle Kirk said many of her early buyers have been venturing into other products besides flower. Edibles, oils and vapes were among other hot sellers Friday morning.

“A lot of people don’t know what they want, but they’re super excited to ask the question and to be able to openly ask it,” Kirk said. “We’re guiding them based on their reasons for using cannabis and the experiences they want. Are you looking for pain relief? Are you looking to relax? Are you looking for a buzz? So there’s a lot of options and a lot of different ways we’re helping people today.”

Greetings from the governor

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New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham greets customers waiting outside Everest Cannabis’ Uptown location in Albuquerque on Friday morning. “Happy April Fools Cannabis Day!” she said. “I’m never going to think of April Fools the same way.” (Chris Kudialis photo)

It’s not just April Fools Day in New Mexico anymore. To the surprise of some 50 or so cannabis aficionados waiting in line Friday at the Everest Cannabis Uptown location in Albuquerque, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham stopped by to personally deliver the news.

“It’s Cannabis Day, as far as I’m concerned,” Lujan Grisham said to the crowd.

Albuquerque resident Raymond Chavez said he’s been waiting his entire life to buy cannabis legally. The 42-year-old doesn’t have any medical conditions that qualify him for a state card, so he continued to buy off the street for years after dispensaries opened.

Until today, that is.

Decked out in a bright red University of New Mexico hoodie, Chavez was among the first couple hundred customers at Everest Uptown to celebrate rec’s launch.

“Historic, man. Incredible. Huge for our state, our patients, our economy and our schools,” Chavez said. “It’s such an important milestone for us to finally get this up and running.”

Chavez flashed a toothy smile on his way out of the dispensary. He reached into his white paper shopping bag and pulled out a two-gram package of Nightmare Cookies flower and a small box containing an 88 percent THC concentrate. The $90 price tag came with a complementary pre-roll.

“Honestly, I was ready to spend whatever it cost to get this,” he said.

Chavez was just as surprised as anyone else when Lujan Grisham arrived. He stepped through the crowd of media members and customers to greet the governor in person. He wanted to make sure his opinion was heard.

“Thank you for finally getting us over the hump,” he told Lujan Grisham. “This is going to change lives.”

– Chris Kudialis

ABQ is open for business!

Jacob Willcox, a budtender at Everest Cannabis in Albuquerque, holds the door for adult-use customers on Friday morning. (Chris Kudialis photo)

After a statewide software glitch delayed the first adult-use sales in New Mexico’s largest city, sales started up in Albuquerque.

Joey Jaramillo, PurLife Menaul’s general manager, said besides the software glitch, the store was “more than prepared” for Friday thanks to several years in business dealing with large crowds and long lines on April 20 each year.

Before opening on Friday, Jaramillo taped a piece of gray tape on PurLife’s door to cover over white text reading “medical.” It left just “cannabis,” which is now available for all adults over 21.

“We’ve been stocking up for weeks, for months,” Jaramillo said. “We love Albuquerque, we’re from here and we couldn’t be more excited for today.”

– Chris Kudialis

Customer #1 in New Mexico: Jeremy Sandoval

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Jeremy Sandoval made the first purchase just past midnight in Las Cruces, NM, on April 1, 2022. (Screen shot via KTSM-9 TV)

Las Cruces crushes it, Albuquerque dealing with glitchy delays

On Friday morning at 12:01 a.m., R.Greenleaf in Las Cruces made the first adult recreational cannabis sale in New Mexico to local resident Jeremy Sandoval. As an interviewed budtender at rival company PurLife in Albuquerque put it, such a move is not surprising from the state’s second most populous city.

“Las Cruces is always trying to one-up Albuquerque, and that goes for legal cannabis too,” said Johnny Rey, inventory manager at PurLife Menaul. “We’ve seen a ton of competition on dispensary opening times and local ordinances around that.”

A spokeswoman from New Mexico’s Cannabis Control Division confirmed a glitch in the state’s point of sale tracking software is preventing dispensaries that opened after  7 a.m. from being complete any sales.

At PurLife Menaul, one of Albuquerque’s most popular dispensaries, over 100 people were lined up at the door at 9:30 a.m. The dispensary had yet to let in its first customer, who had been waiting since 6:45 a.m.

“I’d love to be home smoking a bowl right now,” admitted Sergio Mendoza, a local resident in his early 20s standing at the very front of the line. “But I think it’ll be worth the wait.”

– Chris Kudialis

Did New Mexico’s governor flex on New York and New Jersey?

As millions of voters and cannabis consumers in New York and New Jersey wait…and wait…and wait for their legalization laws to bear fruit in the form of licensed cannabis stores, New Mexico’s stores opened less than 12 months after NM Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the legalization law into effect.

And she’s not shy about letting the world know:

The midnight scene in Las Cruces

Everyone 21+ welcome, starting today

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A staff member at PurLife Dispensary in Albuquerque tapes over the “Medical” sign on the front door, prior to opening the store to all adults on Friday morning, April 1. (Chris Kudialis photo)

Gov. Lujan Grisham doing a little shopping

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a longtime legalization proponent who helped pass the new law last year, will be visiting Santa Fe and Albuquerque cannabis stores on Friday morning to chat with dispensary staff and customers. Similar to elected officials in other adult-use states, Lujan Grisham will also make a number of celebratory “first purchases.”

Gov. Lujan Grisham’s day will begin at R. Greenleaf’s 7 a.m. opening in Santa Fe. She’ll then stop briefly at a smaller dispensary in town, according to spokeswoman Heather Brewer, for a private event where store capacity is limited to 18 people.

Finally, she will visit Everest Cannabis Uptown in Albuquerque from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., where she’ll chat with cannabis customers waiting in line and address many more with a public speech to commemorate the historic day.

– Chris Kudialis

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A Texas buying rush?

Reporter Solomon Israel over at MJ Biz Daily noted, perceptively, that New Mexico borders America’s biggest prohibition state, Texas. And there’s a lot of border there. Legal cannabis stores near the state line of a prohibition state typically do a booming business—just ask those Oregon stores near the Idaho border.

Those border towns are counting on Texans to enjoy some canna-tourism in 2022.

Ben Lewinger, executive director of the New Mexico Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, told MJ Biz Daily: “For those towns along the border, like Clovis and Tucumcari and Texico … all the way down to Las Cruces, it represents a time-constrained opportunity to realize tourism dollars.”

Just remember: Crossing a state line with cannabis is illegal—heck, just being in Texas with cannabis is illegal—and the Texas Highway Patrol is highly aware of what’s going on in New Mexico.

Be legal, be safe, Texans.

– Bruce Barcott

NM already tasting tastier

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One company, 50 new jobs created

Everest Cannabis CEO Trishelle Kirk called the chance to kick off rec sales Friday and host the governor a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” Kirk said Everest created 50 new jobs across its seven dispensaries to meet expected demand for adult-use products.

“The opportunity to be in a business that’s growing and helping so many people is phenomenal,” she said. “It’s a great economic development driver that helps keep New Mexicans working here in our state instead of losing them to jobs in Colorado or Texas.”

The latest edition of the Leafly Jobs Report found that New Mexico’s existing medical marijuana system supported roughly 4,000 in-state jobs as of early 2022. Nationwide, legal cannabis now supports 428,059 jobs.

– Chris Kudialis

Tip your budtender!

Tip my dude: Adam, a budtender at R. Greenleaf’s Nob Hill (Albuquerque) store, is here to guide you.

Word to the wise: It is extremely good form to tip your budtender at the purchase point—especially on a crazy day like today.

For most consumers, budtenders aren’t merely personal shoppers who fill your order. They will help you find the right product (read: dosage) for your desired experience.

Please listen to this hard-earned wisdom: Be brutally honest with your budtender. They aren’t judging you based on your weed knowledge. They just want you to have a wonderful experience.

I can’t emphasize this enough: If you are new to legal cannabis products, tell your budtender. Put yourself in their hands, tip them well, and you will reap the rewards in the prized coinage of relaxation and bliss.

– Bruce Barcott

Turning guns into…potshares?

In Clovis, New Mexico, a high plains town of about 40,000 residents less than 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Texas, Earl Henson and two business partners have pooled resources to convert a former gun shop and shooting range into a cannabis store and companion growing room at a Main Street address.

“I can’t explain how happy I am,” said Henson, a former real estate agent who says his affection for marijuana was a burden in the past. This week, he began harvesting the first crop for a cannabis store titled Earl and Tom’s. “I think these cities that are near Texas, for the next two years it is going to change their economies.”

– The Associated Press

Police on alert, but not alarmed

As with any major holiday or special occasion affecting millions of people, Friday’s retail marijuana sales launch has state police and local agencies aware but unalarmed.

Ray Wilson, spokesman for the New Mexico State Police, reminds cannabis users not to drive under the influence of the plant. Doing so could turn a celebratory day into an unforgettable one for all the wrong reasons.

“Driving under the influence puts others at risk — plain and simple,” Wilson said. “Drivers who are impaired to even the slightest degree can get DWIs and go to jail.”

Wilson notes that cannabis impairment varies tremendously. A first-time user might feel high after consuming a few puffs on a joint, taking an edible, downing a cannabis-infused drink, ripping a dab, or hitting a vape.  More regular cannabis users figure to have a greater tolerance.

Apart from giving the usual obligatory warnings, though, New Mexico police say they’re not beefing up staff or increasing sobriety checkpoints for Friday’s retail sales launch. Spokespeople from agencies in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Rio Rancho and Las Cruces say April 1 will be business as usual.

A general rule? If you feel any different than normal, don’t get behind the wheel.

“If the public chooses to consume cannabis and their consumption is responsible, everybody wins,” Wilson said.

– Chris Kudialis

Patients not forgotten

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When any state opens its medical-only dispensaries to full adult-use sales, patients can feel a little left behind. Suddenly their easy-access medical dispensaries have long lines of adult-use consumers.

Not to worry: The long lines usually dissipate within a few days.

But a number of New Mexico companies, aware of their patients’ concerns, have offered special deals and longer hours for their medical patients this past week. This can be especially helpful, as patients might be stocking up with extra large purchases prior to the April 1 start of adult-use sales.

– Bruce Barcott

Know before you go…shopping

Leafly has all sorts of resources, from an FAQ about what to expect on day one to how to handle a too-intense cannabis high. If you’re new or recently returning to cannabis, start with some of our Cannabis 101 resources. For more specific information, check out our HealthLifestyle, or Strains and Products sections. Want to know more about cannabis products that you can buy in the Land of Enchantment? We’ve got you covered there, too.

Congratulations, New Mexico! All of us here at Leafly wish you a warm welcome and smooth sailing in the legal era.

Chris Kudialis's Bio Image
Chris Kudialis

Chris Kudialis is a Las Vegas–based cannabis reporter. He has written articles for the Los Angeles Times, Las Vegas Sun, Charlotte Observer, Houston Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, and Brazil's Rio Times, among other metropolitan dailies.

View Chris Kudialis's articles