Granting licenses for cannabis “microbusinesses” has become a popular trend in many states pursuing marijuana legalization. A cannabis microbusiness refers to smaller-scale, often family-owned business, or alternatively, an aspiring entrepreneur without the requisite capital for a large-scale operation. New Mexico House Bill 2 (“HB 2”), which legalizes cannabis throughout the state, offers licenses for “cannabis producer microbusinesses” and “integrated cannabis microbusinesses.” HB 2 classifies a cannabis producer microbusiness as a producer with one location that possesses 200 plants or less, while an integrated cannabis microbusiness is afforded additional privileges, such as the ability to manufacture and sell cannabis products.
Once signed into law by Gov. Lujan Grisham (D-NM), HB 2 is poised to serve as a boon for small businesses and rural producers in New Mexico. New Mexico’s Economic Development Secretary has previously noted that cannabis legalization could create new jobs in “eastern New Mexico and in agricultural-rich parts of the state.” Apart from a significantly discounted license fee (an otherwise major barrier to entry for many small operators), HB 2 prioritizes cannabis microbusinesses in a variety of ways. The bill provides financial incentives to cannabis businesses that source product from a cannabis microbusiness, mandates the development of a resource guide for rural New Mexicans looking to start a microbusiness, and ensures that consumers are able to identify via labeling which products are from microbusinesses.
Given the popularity of craft or microbreweries among consumers, as well as many states’ preference for expanding economic opportunity in rural, underdeveloped areas, it is not surprising that cannabis microbusinesses have become popular among states pursuing marijuana legalization. New Mexico’s economy is heavily dependent on spending from the thousands of tourists that visit the state every year, individuals perhaps more likely to stop by a local, family-owned cannabis dispensary. Moreover, rural New Mexico has historically had one of the highest poverty rates in the United States, which makes localized cannabis production an exciting economic prospect. For these reasons, New Mexico has a unique opportunity to serve as an incubator for cannabis microbusinesses, the success of which could offer a template for the rest of the country.