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Law New Mexico


Well-Known Member

New Mexico: Grow Limits Don't Hurt Medical Cannabis Program, Health Chief Testifies

State Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher, testifying Tuesday in a lawsuit against her and her agency, rejected the idea that limits placed on state-licensed marijuana growers ensure that New Mexico will never have an adequate supply for its increasing number of medical cannabis patients.

The lawsuit, one of many the department has faced since being tasked with administering the Medical Cannabis Program launched in 2010, claims that restricting producers to no more than 450 plants at a time is “arbitrary and capricious.”

Patients, producers and current and former state lawmakers have criticized the department in court and in public hearings over a range of issues, including lack of transparency, inefficient systems for renewing the credentials patients need to buy medical cannabis products, and failing to balance supply and demand.

Critics have alleged that Gov. Susana Martinez, who has publicly voiced her opposition to medical marijuana, has waged a passive-aggressive campaign against the program, not trying to repeal the Erin and Lynn Compassionate Use Act but directing officials to subtly sabotage the program by allowing it to become ensnarled in red tape.

The lawsuit now being heard in state District Court in Santa Fe was filed by Nicole Sena of Bernalillo, who says she treats the symptoms of her infant daughter’s rare form of epilepsy with a concentrated oil that requires four times as much cannabis to produce as most other specialized products. Sena asserts that she has had “tremendous difficulty” finding an adequate supply of the oil in New Mexico because of the state’s plant count rules.

“Ms. Sena believes that [producers] in New Mexico would be able to provide an adequate and regular supply” of the oil, the lawsuit says, “if there were not restrictive regulations placed on their production.”

Licensed cannabis producer New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health, which is headed by former state Human Services Secretary Duke Rodriguez, is also a party to the case. The grower commissioned a study that was presented in court by an economist who concluded that if caps on the number of plants are not increased, the state will have a supply deficit of more than 13,000 pounds of cannabis by the first quarter of 2018.

Gallagher said she didn’t agree with the study’s conclusions. She said her department found that even its own survey in 2013 — which estimated the supply grown by producers was meeting only 20 percent of patient need — was unreliable because of the inexact nature of the data used in calculations. For example, she said, patients had told the department they were pressured by producers to report higher usage rates.

In 2014, state Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque, said the state’s program — which had only 13,000 participants at the time — was “statistically failing” and would have more like 60,000 participants if it were more user friendly.

In 2016, when burgeoning enrollment created a backlog that forced patients to wait 60 to 90 days or more for card renewals, which the law requires to be completed in 30 days, State Auditor Tim Keller warned Gallagher that if the agency didn’t start producing the cards within legal time frames, he might refer the issue to law enforcement.

That same year, state Rep. Debbie Armstrong, D-Albuquerque, whose daughter Lynn is one of the namesakes of the Erin and Lynn Compassionate Use Act, said she was “disgusted” that Gallagher had not shown up or sent a representative to a meeting to discuss the problem.

The department’s own Medical Advisory Board, which makes recommendations on petitions for new qualifying medical conditions under the program, has even complained about Gallagher’s lack of urgency in responding to their recommendations.

The current lawsuit is the third case that Santa Fe attorney Brian Egolf, who is speaker of the New Mexico House of Representatives, has filed against the department concerning its administration of the state statute.

Egolf declined to comment Tuesday on whether he thought the department was doing a good job administering the act, citing the pending litigation.

“This is part of what it means to be a citizen legislator,” Egolf said. “At times we have to do our professional work, and when the trial is concluded, I will be happy to visit with you in my capacity as a legislator.”

But some believe the department might be getting the hang of administering the program.

Attorney Jason Marks, who sued the department in 2015 on behalf of a group of producers opposed to new rules the department had promulgated, said Tuesday that case is still pending but he has been able to work successfully with the department on behalf of other clients to resolve issues without litigation.

Armstrong said Tuesday that she hasn’t heard any complaints from constituents lately, “but I worry how it’s going since we had so much concern last year.”

Even Peter St. Cyr, a former freelance journalist who specialized in holding the department’s feet to the fire through news coverage of the cannabis program, said the department appears to be beginning to address problems more nimbly.

St. Cyr now is director of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government — which at one point joined St. Cyr in a lawsuit against the department over transparency issues related to the cannabis program — but said he was speaking for himself and not the foundation.

One problem with having the department administer the program, St. Cyr said, is that the agency’s administrators are not regulatory, business or agricultural experts.

He suggested other agencies, such as the Regulation and Licensing Department, would be better equipped to handle some of the regulatory tasks.

Armstrong, who chairs the Legislative Health and Human Services Committee, said she intends to schedule another hearing on the department’s administration of the program. “At which point,” she said, “we will hear from providers and patients and the department, if they will come. We will invite everyone.”

The nonjury trial in Sena’s lawsuit is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday in District Judge David Thomson’s courtroom with more testimony from Gallagher.


Vapor Accessory Addict
Staff member
Advisory panel backs opioid use disorder as qualifying condition for medical cannabis
By Phaedra Haywood | The New Mexican Nov 4, 2017 Updated Nov 4, 2017

Medical professionals on the front lines of New Mexico’s drug abuse epidemic have successfully petitioned members of the state’s Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to recommend opioid use disorder as a condition that qualifies a patient to use cannabis.

“We have a crisis in New Mexico, and we have had for a long time,” Dr. Steve Jension told the board at its semiannual meeting Friday. Jenison is a former state Department of Health employee, cannabis program director and advisory board member who now works as a paramedic in Dixon.

“I get to see the people who die or nearly die of it on a continuing basis,” he said of opioid abuse. “Now is the time for the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board to send a clear, unambiguous and unanimous recommendation to the secretary of health to add this to the list of eligible conditions.”

The five active members of the board, all doctors, unanimously voted for approval of the condition, drawing thunderous applause from the crowd.

But many worry that the board’s recommendation to state Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher — the only person with the authority to add qualifying ailments to New Mexico’s growing Medical Cannabis Program — will fall on deaf ears, just as it did a year ago. In November 2016, the board also voted in favor of adding the condition. But in June — seven months after the vote — Gallagher rejected that recommendation, as well as several others.

Cannabis program Director Kenny Vigil reported Friday that approximately 48,000 patients were enrolled as of September — a number that likely would grow if opioid use disorder became a qualifying condition.

Medical cannabis is increasingly being considered as a solution to the opioid epidemic nationwide, with scientific studies showing it has promise.

Not only does cannabis counteract the symptoms of opioid withdrawal, Jension said during Friday’s meeting, it also can be used to treat the chronic pain that in many cases led to a patient being prescribed opioids and becoming addicted to them in the first place.

“The two are closely related at many levels,” he wrote in a six-page statement he submitted to the Department of Health in support of a petition to adding opioid use disorder to the cannabis program. The statement was accompanied by eight pages of medical citations.

“In this time of crisis, with so many lives being lost and destroyed,” Jenison said, “we must not be dissuaded from acting when there is so much at stake. The risk of opioids are substantial and well known to us. The risks of cannabinoids are less — much less. We know this. It is entirely plausible that medical cannabis can be a tool in addressing the opioid dependence crisis and in saving lives. It’s time to act.”

Newly elected board Chairwoman Dr. Laura Brown made similar comments ahead of Friday’s vote. “The evidence of the opiate sparing effects are well documented in medical literature,” she said. “In the face of our opioid overdose epidemic, I don’t think we need to wait for any further evidence or studies.”

If Gallagher is inclined to reject the petition again, Jenison said, she should at least give board members an opportunity to talk about the issue, something that board members confirmed has never happened.

“How does it feel when you go through this process twice a year, and most everything gets denied that you all approve?” one audience member asked them. “Do we have a voice? You are supposed to be our voice, and they are not listening. Lynn Gallagher and the Department of Health have failed us and failed this program terribly.”

Bryan Krumm, a psychiatric nurse practitioner, said that by blocking patients’ access to medical cannabis, Gallagher, who is an attorney and not a licensed medical professional, was in effect practicing medicine without a license.

And, as happens at nearly every one of the board’s twice-yearly meetings, audience members complained about the secretary’s failure to attend.

“We are being marginalized, dismissed and insulted,” said longtime cannabis patient Nat Dean. “It’s important we have more participation from the person making decisions about our lives.”

Department of Health spokesman Paul Rhien responded to The New Mexican’s inquiries about Gallagher’s lack of participation on her behalf with the following emailed statement:

“As always, the Secretary will seriously consider the advice of the board and will continue to make medical science and data-driven decisions regarding the Medical Cannabis Program. The Department will continue to responsibly administer the program and make sure that patients receive the most medically-appropriate treatment for their medical conditions in a way that doesn’t compromise their already vulnerable health.”

“On background,” Rhien wrote: “Historically secretaries have not actively participated in the board meetings.”

The Medical Cannabis Advisory Board considered a total of 15 petitions during Friday’s meeting and voted to recommend five new conditions to the list of 20 that currently qualify New Mexicans to legally use cannabis as medicine, including the skin conditions eczema and psoriasis, muscular dystrophy, Tourette’s syndrome, substance use disorder and opioid use disorder.

The board voted against recommending the addition of six conditions: polymyalgia rheumatica, which causes stiffness in the neck and shoulders; dysmenorrhea, or severe menstrual cramps; cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that damages the lungs and other organs; post-concussion syndrome or concussion; diabetes; and arthritis.

In most cases, the board said, patients who suffer from the rejected conditions are already able to be certified to use cannabis under an existing qualifying condition — such as chronic pain, in the case of dysmenorrhea.

In response to a petition to add seizure disorders, the board voted to recommend that the definition of an existing qualifying condition, epilepsy, be modified to included seizures.

The board tabled petitions to add attention deficit disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, degenerative neurological disorder and neuroprotective use of cannabis, in which the substance is used to help regenerate brain cells, protect a patient from brain damage or slow the effects of Alzheimer’s disease. The issues need further discussion, the board said.

A petition to authorize hospital employees to use cannabis to treat pediatric cancer patients was outside the board’s purview, members said, but they planned to issue a statement in support of the practice.



Well-Known Member
New Mexico’s New Legalization Bill Is Shockingly Good. Too Bad It Won’t Pass.

New Mexico’s New Legalization Bill Is Shockingly Good. Too Bad It Won’t Pass.
Ben Adlin
February 1, 2018


A group of five New Mexico lawmakers have introduced an ambitious plan to legalize cannabis for adults 21 and older. If approved, the bill would put the state on pace to begin regulated sales in early 2020.

At a hefty 130 pages, the bill is remarkably comprehensive, with provisions for retail sales, on-site social consumption, homegrow, cannabis delivery, and even a program to subsidize cannabis for medical patients.

But don’t get your hopes up just yet—even the bill’s supporters acknowledge it’s unlikely to pass this year.

New Mexico Considers Lower Penalties for Cannabis Possession

“We spend millions of dollars criminalizing people who use marijuana without seeing benefits to public health or safety. We need to legalize marijuana in New Mexico and stop the harm that disproportionately affects those who are living in poverty and those who are Black, Native and Hispanic/Latino,” state Rep. Javier Martínez, who introduced the bill, said in a statement.

“We don’t expect the bill to pass this year, but introducing it is important.”
Emily Kaltenbach, Drug Policy Alliance
“The punishment doesn’t fit the offense,” he added, “and New Mexicans agree we should remove penalties and instead tax and regulate marijuana.”

Joining Martínez in introducing the measure, House Bill 312, were Reps. Bill McCamley, Antonio “Moe” Maestas, Deborah A. Armstrong, and Angelica Rubio. All are Democrats.

Legalization advocates say that while the bill’s passage is unlikely—the legislative session ends on Feb. 15—its introduction paves the way for a more meaningful conversation in the Capitol.

“We don’t expect the bill to pass this year, but introducing it is important,” Emily Kaltenbach, New Mexico state director for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “We also hope to discuss the merits and challenges of marijuana legalization with legislators during the interim session as well as with their constituents. Feedback from these conversations will make for the best, most carefully thought out policy proposal for 2019.”

6 Ways to Beat a Local Cannabis Ban

If the draft bill is only a starting point, it’s a surprisingly robust one. It contains provisions that have yet to be seen in other states’ cannabis programs, such as priority licensing for applicants who capture solar energy or use recycled water. Other unique provisions include the establishment a medical cannabis subsidy program, which would distribute a portion of cannabis tax revenue to qualified cannabis patients in order to offset the cost of medicine.

The bill would establish a Division of Cannabis Control, which would regulate, administer, and collect fees from the industry. It would oversee both adult-use and medical cannabis, with the exception of the state’s medical registry, which would continue to be handled by the state Department of Health.

Other than that, the state-legal program envisioned by the bill would look much like those in most other adult-use states. Cannabis businesses would be licensed, regulated, and taxed by a newly created Division of Cannabis Control, which would need to set rules and regulations for the new industry.

How to Grow Cannabis Indoors: A Beginner’s Guide

Under the bill, adults 21 and older could legally possess up to two ounces of cannabis or 16 grams of cannabis extracts. Both storefront sales and the gifting of cannabis among adults would be allowed. For those interested in growing at home, cultivation of up to six mature plants and six immature plants would be permitted.

The bill would also allow for a retailer to have a “cannabis consumption area” where patrons could enjoy their purchases in a social setting. For those less inclined to consume next to strangers, the legislation allows for “cannabis couriers” who could deliver products directly to customers.

All cannabis products would need to have a “representative sample” screened by a state-licensed laboratory, which would test for major cannabinoids—THC, CBD, CBG, and CBN—as well as terpenes, residual solvents or chemicals, foreign materials, and microbiological contaminants like mold and certain other pathogens.

Extraction using volatile chemicals, such as butane or ethanol, would require a state license.

List of Major Cannabinoids in Cannabis and Their Effects

Advertising would be severely restricted, both in form and content. None would be allowed on broadcast TV, cable, or radio, nor could advertisements appear on public transit, on publicly owned property, or within 200 feet of a school, playground, childcare center, park, or library. Unsolicited internet pop-ups? Those are banned, too.

Local municipalities could set limits on industry, although any move to ban retailers in a locality of more than 5,000 people would have to be put to a public vote.

The bill also includes certain protections from discipline or discrimination related to legal cannabis activity. Schools, for example, could not refuse to enroll someone over legal conduct, nor could a professional licensing entity penalize a member for legal cannabis consumption.

6 Ways to Beat a Local Cannabis Ban

While the measure would penalize minors for activity involving cannabis, rarely would offenders face criminal charges. People under 21 found in possession of small amounts of cannabis, for example, would face civil penalties, such as fines, mandatory drug education, and community service.

Those who already have cannabis convictions on their records would also see relief, at least if they were convicted of a crime the bill would make legal. Corrections facilities would be required to notify courts if a convicted person’s case should be reopened, at which point the charges could be recalled or dismissed. Those who’ve already completed their sentences could file an application in court to have their convictions dismissed and sealed.

And while people with criminal convictions could face an uphill battle securing a state cannabis license, the bill specifically notes that past convictions involving controlled substances are “not considered substantially related to the qualifications” for a license and “shall not be the sole ground on which an application is denied.” In other words, someone who was a small-time cannabis seller in college 10 years ago wouldn’t be shut out of the legal market.

San Francisco to Wipe out Thousands of Cannabis Convictions

For those worried about a looming crackdown by the Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department, the bill includes a provision barring state and local law enforcement from cooperating with federal enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act in cases where the conduct is state-legal.

As for taxes, the bill doesn’t set a specific rate. Instead, it dictates that a tax rate be set based on a number of policy goals, such as undercutting the illicit market, preventing the adult-use market from undercutting the legal medical market, preventing cannabis use disorder, and avoiding use by people under 21. That’s a lot to ask of a single tax rate, but, like much of the bill’s language, it at least indicates an awareness by the bill’s authors of the difficult balancing act involved in appropriately regulating cannabis.

The legislation’s long odds mean it’s unlikely New Mexico will become the next legal adult-use state. But the bill’s sophistication could bode well for the road ahead.

The full text of HB 312 is available on the New Mexico Legislature’s website.


Well-Known Member
New Mexico Lawmakers expand protections for medical cannabis patients

Lawmakers have approved a pair of bills amending the state’s medical cannabis program to expand patients’ access to the plant and to provide additional legal protections.

Senate Bill 406 expands the pool of patients eligible for cannabis therapy to include those diagnosed with post-traumatic stress, severe chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, sleep apnea, and neuropathy, among other newly specified conditions. It also enacts explicit legal protections prohibiting employers, social service workers, and hospitals from arbitrarily discriminating against patients solely for their medical cannabis status and/or for their failure to pass a drug test. The measure prohibits regulators from placing limits on the percentage of THC or other cannabinoids in therapeutic products and it establishes reciprocity with other states’ medical cannabis programs.

Separate legislation, Senate Bill 204 establishes regulations and procedures for the storage and administration of certain medical cannabis products to students in school settings.

The bills mark the first significant amendments to the state’s medical cannabis law, which had been opposed by previous Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.

The measures await action from Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.


Well-Known Member
Governor of New Mexico decriminalizes marijuana possession

One month after policymakers failed to pass a bill legalizing marijuana in the state, New Mexico has signed into effect a law to decriminalize cannabis. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham authorized the legislation, which will reduce the punishment for possession of up to a half ounce of weed from up to 15 days in jail to a fee of $50.

The Senate passed SB 323 in March by a vote of 30 to 8. The House took its time deliberating over some Judiciary Committee amendments, eventually approving the legislation mere hours before its session concluded.

“New Mexico just took an important step forward toward more humane marijuana policies,” Karen O’Keefe, state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project told Forbes. “It will no longer brand cannabis consumers criminals or threaten them with jail time for simple possession. But it’s a shame that only one piece of the war on marijuana is ending in New Mexico this year.”

“This bill ensures that until we do legalize, people will not have their lives destroyed by being criminalized and stigmatized for possessing marijuana for their personal use,” wrote Drug Policy Alliance New Mexico director Emily Kaltenbach in a press release. Subsequent marijuana offenses may still be punished with jail time under Senate Bill 323.

The bill, which will go into effect on July 1, makes New Mexico the 24th state to take jail time off the menu for small time marijuana possession charges. Decriminalization is a step forward in the absence of farther-reaching legalization, but it has not been found to entirely correct racially biased policing. Studies in states across the country have found that post-decriminalization, Blacks and Latinos are still more likely to be arrested than white cannabis users, even given similar rates of use among racial populations.

Regulation would have taken on a unique profile in New Mexico — the legalization bill that was passed by the House on March 8 before stalling in the Senate’s Finance Committee would have placed marijuana sales largely in state-run retail outlets. In most states that have legalized cannabis, private companies take on the role of marijuana vendor.

Legalization, once the purview of Democrats in the state, has recently become a bi-partisan issue as more and more Republicans come to see marijuana regulation as an inevitable political outcome. The legalization measure that passed in the House was the product of negotiations between both sides of the aisle, a “compromised floor substitute,” as it was introduced by Democratic Representative Javier Martinez.

For now, the state’s residents can at least count on avoiding jail time if they are caught with small amounts of pot. That in turn will reduce the financial burden on the state’s legal system, says a fiscal report put together by the government; “Workloads could be lessened by reducing the charges of possession of marijuana up to one-half ounce and use or possession of drug paraphernalia to penalty assessments.” Estimates put the money that would be gained in tax on recreational marijuana in the state at $40 to $50 million annually.


Well-Known Member
New Mexico Expands Medical Marijuana Program with Addition of Six Conditions
New Mexico Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel’s expansion of medical cannabis access fulfills one of Gov. Grisham’s campaign pledges.

New Mexico’s medical marijuana program is opening its doors to more patients, thanks to a policy change revising the state’s list of qualifying conditions. On Thursday, New Mexico Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel signed off on the addition of six new qualifying conditions. But the one expected to draw the most new patients into New Mexico’s program is opioid dependency.

With the move, New Mexico joins a number of other states that have updated their medical marijuana programs to address the ongoing opioid epidemic. Health Secretary Kunkel also added a handful of other conditions that fewer states consider qualifying, including autism, Alzheimer’s disease and other degenerative neurological disorders.

New Mexico Is the Latest State Turning to Cannabis to Curb Opioids
The United States medical community is desperately searching for alternatives to prescription opioids, or at least something that can reduce the number of opioid medications doctors prescribe. Meanwhile, prescription opioid abuse and illicit use have become a national health crisis. In 2017, the average national rate of opioid-involved overdose deaths was 14.6 per 100,000 persons. That same year in New Mexico, the rate was 16.7 deaths per 100,000. According to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, those numbers have not significantly changed over the last several years.

But new research continues to suggest that cannabis can be a viable alternative to prescription painkillers. Other studies show how cannabis can help also ween people off of opioid dependencies. And in many places where medical cannabis is legal and accessible, opioid prescription rates have declined, especially among younger patients.

And in that research, first-year Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Gisham sees a possible answer to New Mexico’s battle with opioid use and addiction. As part of her campaign platform, Gov. Grisham called for expanding the state’s medical marijuana program to include those struggling with opioid use disorders. Gov. Grisham is a former state health secretary. And her campaign pledge to open up medical cannabis access was seen as a rebuke to former Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration, which had rejected appeals for medical marijuana expansion.

Austism, Alzheimer’s Added to New Mexico’s List of Qualifying Conditions
In addition to opioid use disorder, New Mexico Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel approved five other conditions. She approved autism spectrum disorder, Alzheimer’s disease and three other severe degenerative neurological disorders: Friedreich’s Ataxia, Lewy Body Disease and Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Patients suffering from these conditions won’t have to wait, either. Health Secretary Kunkel’s changes are effective immediately.

“We need to explore and pursue every available means of responding to the health and wellness needs of our neighbors here in New Mexico,” Gov. Grisham said of the announcement. “Compassion must guide our decision-making. Today marks an important and long-overdue step forward after too many years of the status quo.”

The total six new qualifying conditions bring New Mexico’s total up to 28. Most of the state’s 73,000 medical marijuana patients are enrolled for chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.

“Adding these conditions to the Medical Cannabis Program provides medical providers new tools for relieving symptoms that may otherwise be difficult, if not impossible in some cases, to relieve through conventional means,” said Secretary Kunkel.


Well-Known Member
New Mexico implements emergency hemp rules

Hemp industry participants in the U.S. state of New Mexico now have some regulatory clarity after the state’s Environment Department put temporary rules into effect.
The rules cover the extraction, manufacturing, processing storage and transportation of hemp and products derived from the crop.

“This temporary rule, to be in place no more than 180 days, will allow those in the hemp industry to begin operating in New Mexico and ensures the resulting products are safe for consumers while permanent regulations are developed,” said the Department late last week.
The rules apply to all individuals, businesses, agencies, institutions, or other entities engaged in the abovementioned activities.
New Mexico’s hemp industry had been in somewhat of a regulatory limbo since Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed House Bill 581 into law in April, which provided for the regulation of production, testing, research, manufacturing and transport of hemp, hemp extract (including cannabidiol) and derived products. But those regulations had to be developed.
The Hemp Manufacturing Act, which became effective on July 1, stipulates the New Mexico Department of Agriculture, Environment Department (NMED) and Department of Health are the regulating authorities. The NMD’s Environmental Health Bureau (NMED) is responsible for permitting hemp warehouses, extraction facilities, and manufacturing facilities throughout the state.
The NMED has stated the emergency rule was necessary as “the Department finds that in these particular circumstances the time required to comply with and complete the procedures of the State Rules Act would cause an imminent peril to the public health, safety or welfare.”
The New Mexico Department of Agriculture (NMDA) had already issued hemp cultivation licenses to over 300 individuals and businesses, with the first of the crops due for harvesting this month – and these license holders will wish to begin post-harvest processing and extraction immediately after. Subsequently, many individuals and businesses plan to utilize the CBD oil extracted in the manufacture of food items.
Without regulations from the NMED in place, the Department would have not been able to compel manufacturers to engage in appropriate testing, labeling or enforce inspection requirements or standards for hemp manufacturing facilities.


Well-Known Member
Texans May Be Able To Register For New Mexico's Medical Marijuana Program

A ruling by a New Mexico judge this week may enable Texas residents to register for that state’s medical marijuana program. But critics are worried that Texans may end up breaking state and federal laws.

New Mexico’s Department of Health went to court this summer to challenge a law that would issue ID cards to out-of-state residents, including Texans, to buy medical marijuana. It argued the law encourages non-residents to violate state and federal laws and was never meant to include them.

But a state district judge in Santa Fe disagreed and ordered the state agency to issue the cards to non-residents. The court will hear arguments against the ruling on Aug. 19.

Jax Finkel is the executive director of the Texas chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML. She agrees with News Mexico's Department of Health that the change would lead to an increase in arrests.

She’s also concerned the program could lead to both confusion among Texan patients and an increase in arrests.

“While we want patients to have access to medical cannabis, it is problematic that they would have to cross state lines. This would lead them to break federal law,” Finkel said.

Finkel said these patients could face marijuana possession charges if they cross back into Texas because the Lone Star State’s Compassionate Use Program only covers CBD oil that has a psychoactive THC concentration of less than 0.5%, and patients must be listed on Texas’ registry.

The ruling applies to all U.S. states, but in the lawsuit, Texas and Arizona are named as two states that could specifically benefit.



Well-Known Member
NM governor intervenes in court case over medical cannabis cards

New Mexico’s governor has officially become a party in a legal battle over whether medical cannabis cards should be issued to out-of-state residents.

On Wednesday, a state district judge approved Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s request to intervene in the case, which arose after a prominent medical cannabis producer challenged the state on wording in a state statute related to who can become a medical cannabis patient in New Mexico.

In a motion to add Lujan Grisham as an intervening party, her lawyers argued that the governor’s office is better suited than the state Department of Health to address some issues in the case.

Related: Cannabis legalization task force aims for compromise

“Public safety considerations such as the interstate transportation of marijuana, which is a violation of federal and state law, and diversion concerns are critical state policy matters,” the court filing read.

Kenny Vigil, the director of the state’s Medical Cannabis Program, was originally named in court documents but Lujan Grisham’s office argued that Vigil cannot adequately represent the state.

“[Vigil] lacks authority to address law enforcement concerns, approve regulatory action, or direct healthcare policy for our State,” the court filing read. “Thus, the significant public policy considerations interests at issue cannot be fully addressed by the current parties to this litigation and could be substantially affected or impaired.”

While at a task force convened by the governor to examine cannabis legalization, Department of Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel said the issue is too complex for her department alone.

“It’s such an important matter,” Kunkel said. “What it could impact is significant. It’s beyond the Department of Health.”

A lawyer with the department told NM Political Report he could not speak for the governor’s office, but did say Lujan Grisham’s office took an interest in the case because it dealt with “interstate issues.”

The court case goes back to an attempt by New Mexico medical cannabis producer Ultra Health to encourage those who qualify as a medical cannabis patient but do not live in New Mexico to apply for a medical card. The company’s reasoning was that a law change removed the term “resident of New Mexico” and replaced it with “person” in the definition of “qualified patient.”

Almost immediately, the Department of Health dismissed the idea that legislators intended to open the state’s Medical Cannabis Program to residents from other states. Still, Ultra Health moved forward with signing non-residents up for the program.

The Department of Health did not officially deny any patient applications, but they did place several on hold because the applicants did not have an official New Mexico identification card or address. Duke Rodriguez, the president and CEO of Ultra Health and an Arizona resident, and two Texas residents then asked a state judge to weigh-in. That judge ruled that under the change in law, the Department of Health would not only have to start issuing medical cannabis cards to qualified patients regardless of their address, but that the department had been erroneously requiring New Mexico identification cards from New Mexico residents.

A spokeswoman for Lujan Grisham said in an email that the governor “has every right to intervene on behalf of the state.” Egolf, who is also the New Mexico Speaker of the House, responded to NM Political Report, but declined to comment on the case.

Rodriguez said he decided not to challenge the governor’s intervention, in the name of expediency and in hopes that the court will stick with its previous ruling. “Although we believe the Governor has the right to intervene on broader views on public policy, we still contend the plain language of the law is clear, and this plain language will be tough to overrule,” Rodriguez said in a statement to NM Political Report.



Well-Known Member
New Mexico limits medical marijuana providers

Ultra Health President and CEO Duke Rodriguez discusses the medical marijuana industry during a tour of the company's greenhouse on April 6, 2018 in Bernalillo, N.M. (Susan Montoya Bryan,/AP)

A New Mexico law went into effect Tuesday that limits the state's 35 medical marijuana providers to 1,750 mature plants.
The legislation, which replaces previous guidelines that allowed for 2,500 plants per provider, was adopted by state Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel, according to The Associated Press.

Ultra Health LLC, New Mexico's largest medical cannabis provider, has voiced its opposition to the cap, arguing that providers won't have enough supplies for the state's 76,000 medical marijuana patients.
But the number of patients enrolled in the program could change significantly based on the outcome of a recent lawsuit.

The lawsuit challenges New Mexico's policy that prohibits out-of-state residents from obtaining medical marijuana cards from the state's health department. Three people (two from Texas and one from Arizona) filed the lawsuit in July, according to the Albuquerque Journal.

The plaintiffs say a law that went into effect in June removed a requirement that patients in the program have to be New Mexico residents. But the state's health department claims this change was made so that people from other states who already have medical marijuana cards can purchase cannabis in the state, not so that out-of-staters can obtain a card in the state.

Earlier this month, a district judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but told the Health Department it had until later in the month to change his mind.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham then filed a motion, claiming that Kenny Vigil, who directs the state's medical marijuana program, "lacks the authority to address law enforcement concerns, approve regulatory action or direct health care policy for our state."
On Aug. 14, the judge approved her request.

"Although we believe the governor has the right to intervene on broader views on public policy, we still contend the plain language of the law is clear and this plain language will be tough to overrule," Arizona resident Duke Rodriguez, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the Albuquerque Journal. Rodriguez is also the president and CEO of Ultra Health LLC.


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New Mexico balks at issuing medical cannabis cards to nonresidents

New Mexico health officials are refusing to issue medical marijuana identification cards to out-of-state residents, despite a recent judge’s order.

Providing MMJ identification cards to nonresidents could give the state’s medical cannabis sales a shot in the arm.

The Albuquerque Journal reported that the state Department of Health asked a state judge to reconsider a ruling that New Mexico must allow nonresidents to participate in its medical cannabis program.

Health officials say the ruling is not final, because it could be held pending an appeal. Officials added they are waiting until the legal dispute is resolved.

An attorney said the department should be held in contempt of court.

State attorneys say allowing nonresidents to participate would encourage the illegal transport of cannabis across state lines.

Officials say the ruling signed into law this year was a simple drafting error and was not aimed at granting out-of-state residents ID cards.


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New Mexico Will Now Allow Out of State Residents to Get Medical Marijuana Cards

New Mexico Will Now Allow Out of State Residents to Get Medical Marijuana Cards

Thanks to a recent ruling from a New Mexico judge, residents from across the nation can now secure the right to purchase and consume cannabis legally in the Land of Enchantment.

If you’re planning a trip to New Mexico to check out the picturesque scenery or see if you can find and liberate a few new extraterrestrial friends, you can now add a little medicinal greenery to your desert vacation — even if you don’t actually live in the Land of Enchantment.

According to a report from the Phoenix New Times, a ruling from a New Mexico District Judge has opened the state medical marijuana program to out of state residents. Now, anyone who qualifies can register for a legal weed card in New Mexico, no matter where they live.

Derek Rodriguez, a cannabusiness owner who lives in nearby Arizona, was the first non-resident to obtain a New Mexico MMJ card. After a change in the state’s medical marijuana program removed a residency requirement, Rodriguez sued for his right to participate in the New Mexico system. And while Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said that the residency removal was intended to facilitate reciprocity for MMJ cardholders from other states, District Judge Bryan Biedscheid sided with Rodriguez, and ruled that the program is open to any person who would like to apply, regardless of any MMJ status in their home state or country.

States like Nevada and Hawaii already allow reciprocity for medical marijuana cardholders from other states. But when it comes to open enrollment in an out-of-state program, New Mexico’s new policy is the first of its kind. Despite recent pushes from local cannabis advocates, New Mexico has not yet been able to pass a recreational legalization proposal.

“It’s fantastic that New Mexico is going through this in a very public manner,” Demitri Downing, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association of Arizona, told Phoenix New Times. “The more and more people discuss it, the more and more people understand the nuances of what doesn’t make sense. And what doesn’t make sense is not having reciprocity.”

Joining Rodriguez, two Texan men also sued New Mexico for the right to join the state’s medical marijuana program. For a huge number of Texans, New Mexico reciprocity could allow them to take a short drive from the draconian drug policies of the Lone Star State to legally access cannabis elsewhere.

New Mexico officials say that they plan to appeal Judge Biedscheid’s ruling to try and reign in the reciprocity clause.

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