As cannabis continues to evolve, new producers are popping up across the country. These newcomers have a head start in market share but they’re also facing an uphill battle as Canada has outlined strict regulations for all companies hoping to enter the legal cannabis industry.
The “aphria” is a company that has been involved in the cannabis industry for quite some time. The clock is ticking for new producers, as Canada’s legal cannabis market opens on October 17th.
As New Mexico officials sift through cannabis company applications and draft new rules and regulations, some industry hopefuls and veterans are becoming concerned about the timing.
New Mexico’s Regulation and Licensing Department is required by law to begin granting cannabis production licenses by January 1, 2022. Recreational cannabis shops are set to open their doors on April 1, 2022. However, some cannabis growers believe that the timing makes things tough. Some who are still waiting for their applications to be granted say it will be hard to begin selling cannabis goods on the first day if they do not get their license before the start of next year.
The prospect of being ready to stock shelves on April 1 is scary for Alyssa Pearson and her partners, who aim to open a vertically integrated cannabis business. Pearson has been watching the new business develop from afar as she prepares to return to her home state of New Mexico. She and two other cannabis company applicants told Growing Forward, a joint cannabis podcast produced by New Mexico Political Report and New Mexico Public Broadcasting, that they are already preparing to miss the deadline next spring.
“I’d be amazed if we’re still expanding in 2021,” Pearson remarked. “And, to be honest, it’s unfair to me and my business partners since they have the facility set up.” They’ve been putting in the hours since June to be ready.”
At least in the case of Pearson and her firm, Dr. Green Organics, the wait time is influenced by both municipal and state restrictions.
Pearson said, “We have the funding, we have the people, we are ready to extract, we are ready to manufacture edibles, and we are ready to go.” “It’s only a question of getting zoning permission in the town we’re in, which might take another four to six weeks.”
Pearson and her business partners are seeing firsthand a problem that providers have mentioned multiple times since the Cannabis Regulation Act went into effect in June: RLD’s requirement that a cannabis business license be approved by the local government before it can be issued. Local administrations, on the other hand, often need state permission before giving a company license.
RLD Superintendent Linda Trujillo recognized the problem earlier this year when she said that the agency will provide preliminary clearances in certain situations to get the process started.
Matt Muoz, one of three business partners who founded Carver Family Farm, has been featured in a couple Growing Forward episodes and has firsthand experience with what he refers to as a “chicken and egg” situation, in which both local and state inspectors must wait for each other’s permission.
Muoz and his partners want to have cannabis goods available for sale in 90 days, according to Muoz.
“We need to get our license before the end of the year so we can have stuff ready to launch on April 1,” he said.
Only medical cannabis firms, according to Muoz, will be ready to open their doors for adult-use cannabis on April 1, 2021, since they have been licensed by the state for years and already have plants in the ground.
However, at least two New Mexico medical cannabis business owners who talked with NM Political Report earlier stated they would be pushed thin as well.
Duke Rodriguez, the president and CEO of Ultra Health, has long advocated for removing provider restrictions on cannabis production. RLD passed guidelines this year that enable cannabis growers to cultivate up to 10,000 plants in certain circumstances. However, Rodriguez told NM Political Report in September that even 10,000 plants per producer would not be enough to maintain sales for the more than 100,000 medical cannabis patients, much alone the numerous non-patients who are projected to drive up demand. According to Rodriguez, the only practical option for producers to maintain a consistent supply of cannabis is to set up a continuous grow facility. In other words, for a 10,000-plant business, many growers would plant cannabis in increments so that there are always plants available to harvest, according to Rodriguez. However, the initial harvest will be a fraction of the entire capacity permitted after roughly four months.
“I pull down my first 1,000 plants on the 17th week,” Rodriguez stated. “Not 8,000 [plants], but 1,000 [plants],” says the narrator.
In addition to growing durations, harvested cannabis must be dried and cured before being examined and, in some circumstances, made into edibles or extracts, according to Rodriguez.
“People don’t realize how long it takes us to collect that inventory,” Rodriguez added. “Everyone thinks it takes three to four months from seed to harvest. That is merely a portion of the activity. I need to get you from seed to shelf, which involves curing and drying time that isn’t included in the growing period.”
In September, Rodriguez told NM Political Report that unless cannabis output is dramatically increased, the state may face a cannabis scarcity in April.
While a lack of cannabis may be inconvenient for individuals who aren’t medical cannabis patients, those who are typically need it to function.
In September, Willie Ford, the CEO of cannabis management and consulting firm Reynold Greenleaf and Associates, concurred with Rodriguez that the state is on the verge of a “crisis” in terms of cannabis supply. It’s sometimes overstated how essential the plant may be to certain patients, according to Ford.
“I realize how difficult it is to persuade people of the importance of cannabis to patients,” Ford added. “A lot of people don’t realize that individuals depend on this things for their quality of life, simply to be able to get out of bed in the morning and live normally.”
According to RLD spokesman Heather Brewer, the department’s Cannabis Control Division is working tirelessly to provide licenses to applicants.
“The excitement around the adult-use cannabis sector excites the Cannabis Control Division,” Brewer said. “The expert team at CCD is getting ready to issue new production licenses. We’re working closely with all producer-license applicants to ensure that they get their licenses in a timely manner so they can start preparing to take advantage of New Mexico’s cannabis industry’s economic prospects.”