Anthony Torres has seen business double at the Socorro Natural RX store he manages since recreational cannabis sales became legal.
Cathy Cook | El Defensor Chieftain

A week into legal recreational sales, cannabis sales doubled at one dispensary in Socorro. The increase in sales will mean new jobs.

Natural RX is a cannabis retailer with five New Mexico locations and a farm in Placitas. Socorro location manager Anthony Torres was a patient at the Los Lunas location before the Socorro location opened four years ago. He uses cannabis to treat chronic pain from a bum hip.

“I’m glad it finally is legal for everybody 21 and older to use it,” said Torres. “It’s about time. I think it’ll be good for the state. I know the state could use the money. Hopefully it gets used for the right things—the roads and the schools, fire departments, police departments, all that stuff.”

Statewide, there have been almost $10 million in cannabis sales in the first week of April, with $3.9 million in medical sales and $6.1 million in recreational cannabis sales. Recreational cannabis sales became legal on April 1. In Socorro, there were a total of $69,520 in cannabis sales. That breaks down to $31,103 in medical cannabis sales and $38,417 in recreational cannabis sales.

Sales at Natural RX were slightly lower than anticipated. Torres said they expected to run out, but fortunately did not. He predicts sales will dip when the school year ends and college students return home for the summer but believes they’ll go back up in the fall.

The store sells a wide range of cannabis products, including concentrates, edibles and topicals.

Cannabis supplies for the retailer may be a little tight for the next few months as they work to expand their garden. The company will hire more trimmers and more delivery drivers.

“The biggest complication was for the longest time we were only allowed to grow so many plants no matter how many stores you have, and we have five locations that we try to grow for. They barely increased that limit six, seven months ago.”

After plants are harvested, they still have to be cured for 10 days and sent to labs for testing. The cannabis is tested for microbials, bacteria, mold, THC potency and sometimes even for terpenes, which affect the smell and taste.

“They’re finding that the terpenes have a lot to do with how you feel too, not just the THC content, so a lot of times, it’s more of the whole makeup of the plant, not just how high the THC content is,” said Torres.

There aren’t many wholesalers to source flowers from if the dispensary is running low on something, said Torres, as most growers are already attached to a dispensary. There are more wholesalers opening up, so next year there should be more products available.

Two new cannabis businesses have had business registrations approved by the Socorro City Council in the last two months.

At a March 7 meeting, the Council approved a business registration for a cannabis cultivation, packaging and retail store, Peak Harvest Cannabis New Mexico LLC, which will be located in buildings from 101 to 107 Manzanares Ave. The owner is listed as Richard Rood.

In an April 4 meeting, the Council approved the business registration for Caskcara, to grow, manufacture and sell cannabis at 1231 NW Frontage Road. The listed owner is Casey Spurgin, a candidate in the race for Socorro County Sheriff.