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Pot producers eager to ramp up as legalization approaches

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SANTA FE, NM. (AP) — Several medical marijuana providers on Wednesday warned of a potential cannabis shortage in late June, when the first provisions of a new law go into effect to legalize recreational marijuana in New Mexico.

Authorized recreational cannabis sales don’t commence until early 2022. But several medical marijuana businesses, led by Ultra Health, say there could be a run on medical marijuana supplies in late June of this year when the new legalization law takes effect and increases purchase and possession limits, with virtually no restrictions on how much can be stashed away at home for personal use.

Ultra Health called for an increase in the current limits on marijuana production — set at 1,750 plants per producer — to ensure there is no extreme scarcity.

The Department of Health that oversees the medical cannabis program was in the process of reviewing the letter and could not comment.

The Regulations and Licensing Department that will license recreational pot producers and oversee supply chains also was studying the letter. Agency Superintendent Linda Trujillo has said new limits on marijuana possession and home growing take effect June 29.

Ultra Health and CEO Duke Rodriguez have repeatedly challenged the state’s plant-count limit on cultivation. Rodriguez says this time is different in light of the New Mexico Cannabis Regulation Act signed on Monday by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“We’ve gone from being at the back of the pack to the front of the class,” Rodriguez said by phone. “We have, thankfully, some of the most generous purchase/possession limits in the entire country.”

Ultra Health says it takes about four months to grow and harvest cannabis — and that the industry should be allowed to ramp up production now to avoid scarcity.

The new law puts the state on track to accept applications for some recreational-pot business licenses in September, with recreational marijuana sales commencing no later than April 1, 2022.

Purchases and marijuana possession outside the home is capped at 2 ounces (56 grams), enough to roll about 55 joints or cigarettes.

At a bill-signing ceremony on Monday, the governor highlighted the general need to scale up production for the new recreational cannabis market.

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