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The Land of Enchantment is already a little more enchanting. In April 2021, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed bills to legalize recreational cannabis and expunge criminal records of marijuana offenses that are no longer illegal in the state.By year’s end, New Mexico had approved its first three recreational marijuana producer licenses. According to MJBizDaily’s projections, New Mexico adult-use marijuana sales will reach $125 million in the first year and $350 million in annual sales by the fourth year.

But what is legal in New Mexico now, and which cannabis jobs are most in-demand?

What Does New Mexico's Cannabis Legalization Law Allow?

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Under House Bill 2, adults 21 and over can purchase and possess up to two ounces of marijuana, sixteen grams of extract, and eight hundred milligrams of edibles.

The law permits the cultivation of up to six mature marijuana plants or 12 per household. It also legalizes “cannabis consumption lounges,” where marijuana can be purchased for consumption on site.

Under the law, retail marijuana sales must begin by April 1, 2022. 

House Bill 2 includes several “social equity” measures meant to increase diversity and “promote and encourage full participation in the cannabis industry” for people from communities adversely affected by the War on Drugs. 

The Cannabis Industry in New Mexico Today

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Even without recreational cannabis dispensaries, New Mexico has a thriving medical marijuana industry. In February 2021, medical marijuana sales passed $200 million, and by November, there were 127,743 active medical marijuana patients in New Mexico.  

There are already well over 100 medical cannabis dispensaries in the state. A 2020 report found that the state had the 7th most dispensaries per capita. 

More than a third of the state’s medical marijuana patients live in Bernalillo County (Albuquerque), while around 10 percent live in Santa Fe and Dona Ana (Las Cruces) Counties.

Of the first three licenses approved since legalization, one is for a father-and-son production company in Aztec, and the other two are for “micro-producers” in Albuquerque and Edgewood. 

The Cannabis Control Division (CCD) stated that it had received more than 300 license applications across every industry sector, and all must be answered within 90 days.

How to Get a Cannabis Job in New Mexico

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In August 2021, the CCD published guidelines for the retail industry, which can provide some insight on getting a job in cannabis in New Mexico. 

License applicants are subject to a criminal history background check. Dispensaries must complete a Medical Cannabis Program Identification Card Request for each budtender hire - including state and national criminal background checks and HIPAA certification.  

But before any sort of job screening, there are a few basic steps that can help applicants prepare for the cannabis job market. 

One should take stock of their prior work experience and which positions they believe would translate well to the industry. Jobs in sales, marketing, management, customer service, and human resources can all be readily applicable to cannabis, to name just a few. 

Online cannabis education courses can teach a great deal about the industry and its unique laws and regulations. But many courses also cover the finer points of Cannabis Sativa. These include the cannabis plant’s active ingredients like the cannabinoids tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) to intake methods, dosing protocols, and much more. 

These courses can also provide would-be cannabis professionals with a greater understanding of the cannabis consumer base and culture.

Looking for New Mexico Cannabis Jobs Online

When you’re ready to apply for a job in cannabis, take a look at social media and online job sites like LeafWire or 420Careers.

Indeed.com lists 40 marijuana jobs in New Mexico, more than half of them in Albuquerque. The majority are entry-level and pay $30,000 or less per year. Some of the more high-paying cannabis employment postings include dispensary manager, office manager, and laboratory general manager.

Glassdoor currently has 28 job postings in New Mexico, with salaries ranging from $22,000 to $81,000 per year. These include entry-level positions like trimming and packaging, budtending, sales, and grow technician roles. More lucrative management jobs are available, but half of the listings pay less than $32,000 per year.

On ZipRecruiter, seven jobs are listed in New Mexico, with salaries ranging from $18,567 to $135,270 per year.

Applicants can also try the more cannabis-focused job sites. At the time of publication, there were more than 80 postings in New Mexico on LeafWire, ranging from budtender to office manager to private banker.

Ultimately, it’s hard to predict how many industry jobs will be available after the first dispensaries open and how many production and office jobs will be up for grabs. For now, applicants can study the job market, connect with people working in cannabis in New Mexico, and improve their appeal to prospective employers.

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Ben Hartman, Content Manager

Ben Hartman is a cannabis writing and marketing professional with over 15 years of experience in journalism and digital content creation. Ben was formerly the senior writer and research and analysis lead for The Cannigma.

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