LAS CRUCES – Patient enrollment in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program reached 45,347 as of Nov. 30, a 77 percent increase and a 19,650 net patient gain over the same period last year. On an annual basis, this is the highest percentage gain and the greatest net patient increase since the inception of the program in 2007.
At the same time, the program’s patient count has also experienced ongoing enrollment adjustments by New Mexico Department of Health officials, which has been attributed by the NMDOH to “legacy data” being removed from the database, according to a news release from the New Mexico medical cannabis dispensary Ultra Health. The department has disenrolled thousands of patients from September 2017 to October 2017 for the third consecutive year, according to the dispensary chain.
Based on documents obtained through an Inspection of Public Records Act request, it is believed more patient data was removed than indicated by the net month-to-month differences. Written communication between NMDOH and the vendor responsible for program data confirm ongoing reporting concerns.
“The challenge we run into, as we have stated several times, is these reports keep having staggering changes in numbers,” Andrea Sundberg, NMDOH Patient Services Manager, said in an email obtained by an IPRA. “Last year we had a change of 5,000 active enrollees in a one month period that nobody could ever explain. Then last month (September 2017) we ran the report and the numbers by county and condition were different than the active count by over 7,000,” Sundberg continued. “These type of issues two years into the system are not appropriate and only lead to greater confusion about our valid data.”
Despite the frequent restatement of data by the NMDOH, the rapidly expanding Medical Cannabis Program continues to exceed projections and show significant year-over-year growth. The program remains on track to reach near 50,000 patients by Dec. 31.
©2017 the Las Cruces Sun-News (Las Cruces, N.M.)
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