As we prepare to move into 2022, New Mexico has a great opportunity to create all kinds of new revenue thanks to last year’s decision to legalize recreational marijauna. Though residents have been allowed to possess small amounts of marijauna legally here for more than six months, retail establishments will be allowed to open no later than April. As we prepare for that reality, every city and county should make themselves as accessible as possible for the entrepreneurs looking to break into the market. Gatekeeping our towns from that revenue source does nothing but hurt the bottom line moving forward.
For years, marijuana was seen as a taboo subject all over the country. People were afraid of having recreational marijuana legalized, afraid of the effect it would have on residents and the neighborhoods it was in. But as more and more states have legalized it over the past decade, they have seen that the benefits of allowing it far outweigh the risks. Neighborhoods didn’t burn to the ground because local stores sold marijuana. The residents didn’t all turn into degenerates. Instead, revenue soared and allowed more projects to be completed and the state to build up a surplus of funding to make some dreams a reality.
The hope is that recreational marijuana can have a similar effect here in New Mexico, now and in the years to come. This is a state that has become overly reliant on revenue from the oil and gas industry, a sector that has an uncertain future over the next decade-plus. The state has seen revenue increase thanks to its embrace of the film industry, and it hopes that marijuana will have a similar trajectory. However, that is only possible if local governments get on board and keep the process moving. This is not something to be scared of. Yes, it is new and governments generally don’t do well embracing new things. But this needs to be the exception.
If a business owner shows an interest in moving into an available space here in Las Vegas, our local government needs to make the process as smooth as possible. They will face plenty of roadblocks at the state level. If they face even more on the local level, maybe they will choose to plant their business somewhere more welcoming. If they do that, then some other municipality will receive the tax funds from the business, and we certainly don’t want that.
This is an exciting opportunity to unlock all sorts of new funding. There are plenty of benefits staring all of us in the face, while we have to look much harder to find the potential downsides. Only time will tell how accessible our local communities will be when it comes to the recreational marijuana market. But we plead with everyone in charge of these decisions to keep potential business owners moving through the process. Be helpful. Be welcoming. Opportunities like this don’t come along every day.