Cannabis: An Emerging Economy

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Rachael Speegle, Director of Operations

Rachael Speegle, Director of Operations

I recently presented on cannabis as an emerging economy at The Albuquerque Business First’s Grow 2020 event. It was an honor to represent this new and exciting industry to other business executives as a way to support cannabis in mainstream society. It is important that cannabis has a seat at the table to insure our community understands its permanence and potential here in New Mexico. The reception for the topic was inspiring and brought new support for the changes we all know need to happen for this new, emerging industry.

Banking in Cannabis

The challenges of banking within the cannabis industry are nothing new and now more troubling than ever. Without proper banking there can’t be proper oversight. The risk for money laundering and tax evasion increases in States and organizations without banking. Additionally, without merchant services there are no affordable credit card solutions for cannabis patients. The only cannabis friendly credit card services cost the consumer over 5% per transaction and apply a set fee of $3 per transaction to the retailer. These options are exploitive and hurt the cannabis consumer, who already must purchase their products without any insurance or financial assistance.

Where to call home?

Rent to cannabis retailers and producers is astronomical and burdens the industry and in turn the patient. There are many landlords and contractors who charge more for services and rent just because they see an opportunity to exploit the industry. Worker’s Compensation Insurance is one of the most exploitive as cannabis businesses are placed in the highest risk pool. Banking costs 1% of all deposits just to have an account in NM. Product liability is nearly impossible to acquire and when done it costs tens of thousands of dollars. Cannabis businesses who are compliant with the 280e tax code have a tax burden of between 40-50%.  This is the time to collectively look at this new industry as an opportunity to create jobs, strengthen the economy and support the physical health of our community. As with all new industries, they need to be nurtured not smothered.

Be the Change We Need to See: Emerging Economies and Beyond

It was interesting to present cannabis as an emerging economy on the same stage as microbreweries, space travel, and biotechnologies. The microbreweries spoke of infrastructure challenges and their need to have municipal water instead of well water to make beer. There is a common theme in NM that people want growth and opportunity. They want jobs to keep their children here and they want a strong economy but often not the change necessary to achieve those goals. If we want to see change we have to champion it!

I learned so much on that stage and I am grateful for the opportunity to tell my story to the room. I’m also grateful for the evolution that is happening and I’m hopeful that those wanting more for New Mexico will win the war on change.

— Rachael Speegle, RN, Director of Operations, The Verdes Foundation