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Does New Mexico have enough water for cannabis?

Where some see desert, Cid and Medina Isbell see opportunity.

Standing on a plot on their 30-acre property just north of Madrid, they envision a greenhouse full of cannabis plants where brush, sunflowers and cactuses now grow.

They are among many hopeful entrepreneurs who see New Mexico’s upcoming legal market for cannabis production and sales — set to launch by April 1 — as a way to break into a new business with a potential windfall. The Isbells already have raised $200,000 toward their initial budget of $800,000, and they’ve hired a lawyer to help sort out legal issues.

They own the land, and they’re ready to install the security fences and cameras required to get a cannabis production license from the state. But they have one big challenge remaining.

Water.

Like all prospective cannabis producers in New Mexico, the Isbells must prove they have rights to water and an adequate supply before they can apply for a license.

That can be a problem, especially for rural growers, in a state with complicated laws divvying up a limited supply of water rights and in the throes of a 20-year megadrought that threatens to contribute to a serious water shortage. While cannabis growers who plan to operate in facilities within a city can tap into the municipal water supply as commercial customers, those growing outside city limits must purchase or lease commercial or agricultural water rights from someone else who owns them — a difficult and time-consuming process. [Read More @ The Santa Fe New Mexicann]

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