One of the most frequently asked questions we get is, “how long does this take?” As always, that depends on how prepared you are when you start and what type of application you are seeking.
With seven different types of licenses, each having different components, there is no exact timeline but here are some guideposts to help you understand the process and build reasonable expectations for your application.
By law, the Cannabis Control Division (CCD) has 90 days to act on your application after they deem it complete. But most applications require additional reviews and approvals of specialized parts of your license (water, food handling, background checks) by at least 2 agencies outside of CCD, before your application is deemed “complete” and CCD review begin (Some applications take approval by 4 or more other agencies — and then you have local permitting and approvals).
That’s why our process is geared towards creating a comprehensive licensing plan, based on the information you provide, to identify all the agency approvals required and integrate those into a single plan.
At Weeds. we’ve helped to license almost 100 facilities around the state so we work to start those external agency reviews before we submit your final application to CCD, cutting down on waiting time where we can.
But, in general, single-site retail applications can take 90-120 days from application to opening. Larger and integrated facilities can take 90-180 days, depending on the level of local permitting required. Applicants should expect at least one round of follow-up questions or requests for additional documentation throughout the process. And, of course, our lawyers tell us to remind you that these estimates are based on our experience licensing all those facilities, but your timeline depends on your specific circumstances.
Sample Cannabis License Timeline in New Mexico
Gathering your company and ownership documents and preparing your application: 1-2 weeks
Our team works with you to build a licensing plan tailored to your business. To start the process, you must establish a company or LLC with an operating agreement, register with the IRS, State TRD, Secretary of State and obtain local business licenses, if required.
Premises verification and approvals: 1-2 weeks
Verify zoning, water availability, utility service and current fire inspection, certificate of occupancy and building code status.
Department of Public Safety Background Checks: 2-4 weeks
Each of your company’s owners and controlling persons must undergo a state background check through the Department of Public Safety. Depending on the number of persons involved in your company and the criminal history of applicants, this process can add 2 weeks or more to your process.
State Application Begins
(If applicable) Water Use Approval by the Office of the State Engineer: 3-6 weeks
Required for producer and some manufacturing applicants.
Water rights (including water from a municipal water system) are reviewed by the state engineer. For more information on verifying water use, contact us.
(If applicable) Food Handling Health & Safety Compliance from NM Environment Dept.: 5-10 days
Required for manufacturing applicants and some producer applicants.
Since cannabis products are designed to be inhaled or ingested, cannabis flower and products must meet the same stringent health and safety requirements for other food packagers and manufacturers.
Cannabis Control Division review: Up to 90 days
Once all of your documents and outside approvals have been sent to CCD, their review can begin. By law the have up to 90 business days to act on an application. Depending on the number of applications in cue, the complexity of applications pending, and department staffing, we’ve seen applications approved in as little as two weeks or as long as 90 days.
State license award, denial, or request for additional documents.
Local Permitting: 2-6 weeks
Most local jurisdictions require you to receive state approval before applying for local business registrations or location approvals. In some jurisdictions, you must complete all building permit requirements before applying. Often these can be in process while waiting on state approval.
Local Building Permitting, Construction and Certificate of Occupancy Approval: Depends on the project.
Timelines for building permitting and construction vary by project, but final inspections usually occur 1-3 weeks after any construction is completed.
Fire Inspection: 2-3 weeks
Can we speed this up?!
At Weeds, we do more than just fill out your license application. We put in the work with you up front to build a full license plan laying out the components required for your specific license.
Approval agencies take applications in the order they are received, but after helping dozens of applicants through the process, we understand when and how to create parallel applications for state and local components so we are can maximize opportunities to move multiple components forward together.
Some local jurisdictions do allow for the payment of “fast track” fees to speed up building permit reviews. Only licensed architects and building contractors are allowed to submit building permits, we work with Omni Projects Group to manage that process for clients looking for cannabis-specific building help.