One year after legalization, a look at area cannabis sales

Mar. 25—This week marks one year since the legalization of recreational cannabis in New Mexico. With 10 months of statistics officially reported and recorded, Clovis cannabis retailers alone have racked up a little more than $8 million in sales.

Clovis' sales in the first 10 months rank it 10th among the state's cities in recreational cannabis sales, according to data from the Cannabis Control Division of the state Regulatory and licensing Department.

The city's recreational sales were 58% larger than sales of medical cannabis, which totaled more than $4.6 million over the same period.

In Portales, however, medical cannabis sales outpaced recreational sales by 30.4% in the first 10 months of legalized adult-use sales, CCD numbers show. Portales medical cannabis sales totaled more than $2.1 million, compared with more than $1.6 million in recreational sales.

Clovis' location about 10 miles west of the Texas border was predicted to bring a boom in cannabis sales to the city, but Texas' influence on Clovis' adult-use sales is hard to measure, according to City Manager Justin Howalt.

The city has not kept close track of how many transactions involved Texas customers, he said.

Total tax revenue from cannabis retail sales in Clovis has totaled about $600,000.

If rank in sales compared with rank in population is any indication, Clovis' expectations may have fallen short. Clovis ranks eighth in the state in population but 10th in total recreational cannabis sales.

Hobbs, which ranks seventh in the state in population (39,756 people), ranked fifth in the state in recreational cannabis sales. Hobbs, located six miles from the Texas state line, saw a little over $15.6 million in recreational sales, compared with nearly $4 million in medical sales, according to CCD data.

Recreational sales were nearly four times higher than medical sales.

Sunland Park is New Mexico's 13th largest city, with a population of about 16,700. It is located about eight miles from El Paso, Texas, which has a population near 679,000. Sunland Park's recreational cannabis sales totaled nearly $17 million from April to February, ranking it fourth among New Mexico cities in total recreational sales.

Recreational sales in Sunland Park were eight times higher than medical sales, which totaled more than $2.1 million in the same period, the CCD figures show.

In Texico, whose eastern city limit is the Texas state line, recreational sales were nearly 12 times higher than medical sales, according to CCD. In the first 10 months, Texico's retail cannabis dispensaries chalked up sales of $824,369.53 in adult-use sales and only $70,084.65 in medical sales.

Texico's sales ranked it 21st among New Mexico municipalities in adult-use sales, but Texico's population of 956 ranks it as 146th among New Mexico cities.

There are 14 retail cannabis dispensaries in Clovis, according to CCD reports, whose sales totals since April 2022 range from about $52,000 to more than $1.7 million.

One of the first to become established in Clovis was Earl and Tom's located just south of First and Main in downtown Clovis. CCD figures show Earl and Tom's dispensary with total sales of more than $1.2 million from April to February.

Tom Schoneman said things are "going well" for the business. "It's a lot more work than we thought it would be," he said, "and the competition has grown.

"The growing side has taken off," he said, as the business' growing rooms, where they produce marijuana plants, have grown from one room to five.

While the home-grown product is sold exclusively at Earl and Tom's, Schoneman said, the dispensary sells products bought from other sources.

While Texas trade is significant, he said, Earl and Tom's focuses on local customers. "We expected Texas trade to be a good part of the business," he said, but the business has "really resonated" with local customers from Clovis and eastern New Mexico.

As business has grown, he said, so has the payroll. Earl and Tom's has 15 employees full-time. Some are "bud tenders" who serve and advise customers, but the real job growth Schoneman said, has been on the "grow side."

"We think we're going to grow to 16 or 17 full-time employees in the next year," he said.

The dispensary, he said, "is a lot of work, but we love it."

While recreational cannabis use seems to have caught on in New Mexico, its impact on law enforcement remains undetermined.

The News made contacts with Clovis police, Portales police and the Roosevelt County Sheriff's Department, but none responded to questions in time for The News' deadline Thursday.

Curry County Sheriff Mike Reeves, however, said state police have only recently begun to provide training in detecting whether a suspect has been using cannabis products enough to impair driving.

"With alcohol, we can determine how much has been consumed," he said, "but we can't do that with marijuana."

Juvenile possession of cannabis products was another concern voiced when legalized recreational cannabis was passed by the 2022 New Mexico State Legislature. Reeves said juvenile possession has not been a major concern in Curry County.

In December, Portales Schools Superintendent Johnnie Cain said incidents of students having cannabis products on campus had "stepped up."

Mostly, he said, students have been caught with vaping products containing THC, the active ingredient in cannabis.

"When we catch them, we take appropriate disciplinary action and notify law enforcement," he said at the time.

Problems have mostly occurred at Portales High School but there have been a few incidents at Portales Junior High School as well, Cain said.

Clovis schools in November reported 24 incidents of THC vaping within 10 days of installation of vape sensors.

State Rep. Andrea Reeb, a retired 9th Judicial District Attorney, sponsored three bills aimed at preventing juvenile cannabis possession and use. One would make cannabis use a delinquent act for children, one would require the state Department of Health to oversee a "cannabis school use prevention resource program for school personnel, "and the third would prohibit packaging of cannabis products to attract underage users. None of the bills made it to floor votes in the House.

Reeb said in a news release she proposed the packaging bill because children were mistaking cannabis products for "something they can eat," and become "really sick." It was a problem in "all schools," she said.