SUNLAND PARK, N.M. (Border Report) – Texas residents turned out in force during the first day of recreational marijuana sales in New Mexico.
The lines were long and constant at two dispensaries in Sunland Park – a small New Mexico community a 10-minute drive from Downtown El Paso, Texas. An equal number of cars in the businesses’ parking lots bore white Texas plates as the turquoise blue of New Mexico.
“New Mexico going recreational and Sunland having dispensaries open is something many El Pasoans I know are very much looking forward to,” said Maximilian, a young adult that came out of Ultra Health, a dispensary on McNutt Drive (NM 273), with a bagful of product.
Inside, clerks like Blasa Zapata hardly had a minute’s rest.
“It’s going good. We’re already used to the rush,” she said. It was barely noon.
Inside the store, the staff did its best to outline the selection of strains and “flavors” and quickly dispatch the next person in line. Classic rock blared in the background.
The New Mexico Cannabis Control Division as of Friday had approved 116 retail licenses and 123 producer and manufacturing licenses.
People without a license cannot sell marijuana and it’s a crime to provide the substance to those under 21. Smoking can only take place in homes or designated areas. Recreational sales are banned in neighboring Texas and it’s illegal to bring any amount back to the state.
But on Friday midday, not a single Texas trooper could be seen at the state line.
“I’m sure most of the people that are going to be here will be from El Paso,” said Jason Blue, another visitor to the state.
He said the selection at the dispensaries was “still a bit small” but with room to grow. “They’ve got enough stuff in there and seems like we’re going to have a good time. I’m excited,” he said.
Maximilian, who did not give his last name, said he was already familiar with the marijuana scene in New Mexico as a medical marijuana card-holder. “I have a lot of friends in New Mexico, so I visit them once or twice a month,” he said. “This is just the beginning of the cannabis industry in New Mexico. With time, they’re going to have a greater selection.”
Sunland Park officials earlier told Border Report they expect recreational marijuana to bring in $7 million a year in sales to the city.
Some residents who are not connected to this industry said they, too, are benefitting from the influx of Texans.
“It’s going to have a positive impact to the community if they bring a lot of customer traffic,” said Raymundo Gregory, owner of Nutrition Station, a health and nutrition store next door to Ultra Health. “We had around 50 customers this morning. We usually have around 30, so that’s almost double.”