How to Open a Dispensary in New Mexico

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In 2007 New Mexico Senator Bill Richardson (D-NM) signed Senate Bill 523, allowing the use, possession, and sale/distribution of medicinal cannabis for patients with qualifying medical conditions.

In February 2015, the New Mexico state Department of Health (DOH) added new regulations to the bill. The new regulations reopened the application period for non-profit producers, to include 23 existing medical cannabis facilities for a month. The application process closed as of May 1, 2015. Currently, the state is not accepting any new cannabis business applications. Nonetheless, here is everything you will need to know about opening up a dispensary in New Mexico.

Legalization in New Mexico

When was marijuana legalized

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In 2007, the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act legalized medical cannabis in New Mexico. New Mexico’s medical cannabis law allows possession by registered patients of up to 8 ounces within a 90-day period. Any amount larger than that must be authorized by a physician in the state. State law also allows qualified patients to apply for what is called a Personal Production License, which permits home growing. For non medical users, New Mexico decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis under Senate Bill 383.

What is New Mexico’s Cannabis Market Worth?

Currently there are 48 licensed dispensaries operating within New Mexico. The size of the state’s cannabis market was slightly over 97 million by the end of 2016, and it continues to grow. Cannabis sales have surpassed both the state’s green chili market ($41 million), and the alcohol market ($30 million).

Owner’s Requirements

New Mexico law allows counties and cities to set rules for both growers and sellers. They are also allowed to ban them outright if they so choose. You should always be aware of your state’s local laws before attempting to open a dispensary or any other cannabis business.

Licensing Requirements

Starting your own dispensary in New Mexico can be quite costly. To start, there is a lab application fee of 2,200 dollars, and then there is another manufacturer application fee of 1000 dollars. You will also be expected to pay a licensed non-profit producer (LNPP) application fee, which will run you about ten thousand dollars.

Licensing fees can range anywhere from 30-100 thousand dollars. There is also a required yearly background check for all dispensary owners and people associated with any kind of cannabis business. You will be required to cover all of those fees as well. All dispensary owners are required to show proof that they are residents of the state of New Mexico. You must of course, provide a copy of your driver’s license, or any other federally issued photo identification.

You must purchase single license for cannabis cultivation and sale. This is called a licensed non-profit producer (LNPP). Licensees are not required to own a dispensary; they can deliver, use couriers, or transfer to manufacturers. Manufacturers and labs both require separate licenses . A manufacturer on the other hand, may be associated with either an LNPP or independent.

Financial Requirements and Expected Profit

Financial requirements and pay-off

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The costs of opening and operating a dispensary can vary. It can cost between 5-10 thousand dollars to get your business up and running. It may take some time to save up. You are of course, required to purchase insurance, which is a standard for all business owners. You can expect to pay the same fees as them. Dispensaries in New Mexico tend to make anywhere from 60 to 150 thousand dollars a year. Sometimes they even make millions of dollars.


As of right now, New Mexico isn’t accepting new applications for opening more dispensaries. This is always subject to change. You should allow yourself up to a year to get all of your affairs in order.

 Consulting Companies

The following firms can provide you with a wide range of services to help you get your business off the ground and running. They can help with state licensing requirements, assistance with applications, as well as stocking your business.


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