New Mexico Recreational Dispensary License

New Mexico Recreational Dispensary License

While medical cannabis dispensaries have been permitted in New Mexico since 2007, recreational dispensaries are a new concept made possible by the legalization of adult-use cannabis in 2021.

As of April 2022, cannabis shops can open in New Mexico but, to trade legally, you need a New Mexico recreational dispensary license. That’s easier said than done.

The license application process can be challenging without the right guidance. The industry is highly regulated and it helps to be able to call on the insight of experienced players in the cannabis industry.

The knowledgeable cannabis lawyers at Legal Solutions of New Mexico have been helping entrepreneurs and industry advocates set up cannabis businesses since the early days of legalization. We can provide the support and guidance you need to navigate the many legal hurdles.

What is a cannabis dispensary license?

Under the Cannabis Regulation Act, New Mexico has made available multiple different types of licenses depending on which particular area(s) of the cannabis industry your business intends to operate in.

Producers, manufacturers, couriers, testers and retailers all need different licenses. For those wanting to sell cannabis from a licensed dispensary, you will need a New Mexico cannabis adult-use retail dispensary license.

If you are looking to set up an integrated small business that grows, manufactures and sells products, an integrated cannabis microbusiness license will be more appropriate.

Each different license type requires different sets of documents to be submitted to the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) for review during its stringent applicant screening process. The CCD is responsible for all cannabis licensing and regulatory provisions for both recreational and medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

For the retail dispensary license, a fee of up to $2,500, with an additional $1,000 per licensed premises applies.

Barriers to entry for cannabis retailers

Because of the volume of applicants to the CCD, you will need to prepare well for an application for a cannabis dispensary license in New Mexico.

Apart from being able to pay the fees outlined above, you will need to submit an extensive application, in which you must show not only how you intend to run a profitable retail business but that you are worthy of the license based on the background of the key people involved in the business.

This includes consenting to a criminal history background check annually to obtain and renew your cannabis business license.

You must also show that you have taken the necessary steps towards compliance with state laws and demonstrate that you have the finances to operate, the necessary security controls in place, and even acceptable software for a robust inventory and POS system.

As well as the state regulations, you have the local municipality regulations to contend with.  Local governments may not forbid cannabis businesses from operating entirely within their jurisdictions but can restrict the numbers and forbid them to set up in certain locations. You will need to check city and county zoning regulations carefully before making too many plans to open.

In many municipalities, there are restrictions in place concerning the distance that a cannabis retail outlet must be from a school or daycare (in Albuquerque it is 300 feet) and set distances that dispensaries must be located apart from each other (600 feet in Albuquerque), just like with liquor retail outlets.

Because of these potential limits and roadblocks to opening your dispensary, it helps to discuss your plans with a cannabis business lawyer before getting too far down the track with your license application.

Recreational cannabis shops now open for business in New Mexico

Since April 1st, 2022, recreational cannabis dispensaries in New Mexico have been open for business.

There is no limit to the number of licenses that the CCD can approve, providing the regulations are met by licensees. This means that cannabis dispensaries could soon be a regular feature of the streets in all New Mexico towns and cities — not just in Albuquerque.

However, many applications are still caught up in the overworked CCD system, as the process of reviewing licenses is laborious.

Bear in mind that once your dispensary is open, the regulatory checks do not simply end. Licenses will need renewing annually and compliance officers will inspect retail shops to confirm that license holders continue to follow the rules.

Seasoned legal experience within the cannabis industry not only ensures that your application for a dispensary license is accompanied by all of the necessary documentation to avoid delays but that you are suitably protected after your business opens to the public.

Get your New Mexico cannabis dispensary set up the right way

The cannabis retail industry is going to become increasingly competitive. Mistakes at the startup stage can be costly and the strongest businesses will be those that have planned ahead.

At Legal Solutions of New Mexico in Albuquerque, our experienced cannabis business lawyers can help you navigate the many legal hurdles to setting up your retail business. Call (505) 445-4444 to talk to a knowledgeable cannabis lawyer during a free case valuation.


Family Law
Litigation & Consulting
Cannabis Law

Administrative Law


A law firm providing tailored solutions for your particular needs.


Contact Us