Home Local News Hobbs ranks fifth in New Mexico’s billion dollar cannabis industry

Hobbs ranks fifth in New Mexico’s billion dollar cannabis industry

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Hobbs ranks fifth in New Mexico’s billion dollar cannabis industry

Caleb A. Gallegos/News-Sun

New Mexico has just reached an all new high in states history by reaching $1 billion in cannabis sales, with Hobbs ranking fifth in total sales in the state pulling in around $49 million and Lea County totaling $60 million.

On March 5, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham released a statement congratulating New Mexico on its historical milestone in reaching $1 billion in cannabis sales since the state allowed recreational consumption for adults on April 1, 2022.

“This is a huge milestone for New Mexico’s cannabis industry,” Lujan Grisham said. “Nearly two years after beginning sales, New Mexico is on the map as a premier hub for legal and safe cannabis and the thriving business community that comes with it.”

The governor’s press release said since becoming legal cannabis consumers have purchased more than $678.4 million worth of adult-use cannabis products, and $331.6 million in medical products, with $75 million in cannabis excise taxes going to the state general fund and local communities.

Hobbs rolls in at fifth in the state when it comes to total sales (adult and medical) with an amount of $49,266,417.90, between its 25 dispensaries.  First in the state is Albuquerque followed by Las Cruces, Santa Fe and then Sunland Park.

Some Hobbs dispensaries have been around since 2007, when former Gov. Bill Richardson first signed a bill making medical use of cannabis legal, and have had to make a transition as the industry grows.

Ultra Health president and CEO Duke Rodriquez said although the industry has reached the milestone of $1 billion, it was expected to happen sooner then it did.

“We all knew we would be approaching $1 billion sometime in 24′, but ideally we should of hit it in 2023, so we are behind the early estiments,” Duke said. “So while it is a milestone to announce a billion, its rather disappointing it took us this long into 2024 to get there.”

Rodriquez said the transition from medical to recreational was simple for the legacy operators who came from the original medical program, because it was simple a matter of expanding customers.

“The products remained essentially the same, staffing was increased, and sales fortunately increased as well. Day-to-day operation there was just more activity in a more compressed time frame.”

Duke said between 2022 to 2023 the cannabis industry has leveled off across the state except for key markets including Hobbs.

“There is no doubt that oil and gas for the short term, and probably long term will be the heartbeat of New Mexico’s economical machine, cannabis is not going to replace it, but with that being said we have some very bright spots in the cannabis market, and thankfully Hobbs is one of those.”

“All those areas along our southern boarders with Texas, southeastern New Mexico all the way down to Las Cruces/Sunland Park, those areas are probably going to be the economical machine for cannabis,” he said.

Purlife Retail, a dispensary in Hobbs, has been around since cannabis was strictly medical, but since the legalization of adult-use, Purlife has become the second highest grossing dispensary in Hobbs, pulling in around $7 million dollars since April 1, 2022.

Manager of Purlife Retail dispensary, Jesus Ramirez, isn’t new to cannabis, having started using cannabis early in his life. Ramirez said he has always believed in the industry and its future but wants more organization.

Ramirez has been managing Purlife dispensary for over a year and remembers what the transition from medical to recreational was like.

“I didn’t go to a dispensary for like the first eight months,’ Ramirez said. “Every time you would pass by a dispensary the lines were around the building.”

Although he enjoys the retail side of the industry and the chance to help people, Ramirez said he thinks the industry still needs some structure as it moves forward.

“It feels over saturated,” Ramirez said. “Some of the rules aren’t explained very well when it comes to state regulations and store expectations, so I feel like the industry is still trying to get on the right path.”

Ramirez said he plans on making the cannabis industry his full-time career, with hopes of owning a farm to start growing his own cannabis, and plans to make sure Purlife holds its standards.

“Its really the brand that sells itself,” Ramirez said. “My goal is to create a safe place, so I can have a smooth operating business where people can come in and smile.”

With 25 dispensaries in Hobbs, many have a unique twist to the way they operate, and their own opinion on the pros and cons of the industry.

Recently celebrating its anniversary, Canna Buddha is a dispensary in Hobbs that has made more than a $1 million in its first year of business.

Manager of Canna Buddha, Marc Hinojos, thinks the industry is headed in a good direction, and thinks the industry will help the city and state in the long run. Hinojos believes cannabis is having a good financial impact on New Mexico, but thinks the medical benefits of cannabis is the real driving factor in helping New Mexicans.

“A lot of cannabis is used for medical purposes,” Hinojos said. “There are a lot of people living in pain and might be allergic to some medications, or just can’t afford them – cannabis and certain cannabinoids help with that.”

Hinojos said he and his team hear testimonies often about people who have substituted cannabis for certain medications, and claim to feel better after making the change.

“Its not just a cash crop. ‘Big pharm’ doesn’t like that we’re legal, they feel it,” he said.

Canna Buddha has expanded to other locations including Jal and New York and has plans for more locations across the nation.

Hinojos said he attributes the success of Canna Buddha to the customer service and knowledge of his staff.

“We pride ourself on our team,” Hinojos said. “We understand Hobbs is a rough town, and good customer service is hard to come by. When customers come in we try and give them the best knowledge, product, and service we can.”

Hinojos said he and his team like the competition of having different dispensaries in Hobbs, and thinks it helps ensure the best products are being sold, and the most up-to-date knowledge is being shared.

“Ain’t nothing wrong with a little competition,” Hinojos said. “It brings jobs to the area. Along with the oilfield its definitely another source of income you can make a living from. …. We’re just going to ride the rollercoaster.”

According to a Demand and Supply study done by New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department, total yearly cannabis demand in New Mexico is estimated to be 161 million grams (356,000 lbs/ 530,000 plants) of cannabis across all sources of cannabis.

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