Growing the program - Albuquerque Journal

Growing the program

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

When the medical cannabis program passed the Legislature in 2007, it included seven debilitating medical conditions – cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, hospice care and spinal cord injuries – in the statute.

It gave authority to the Cannabis Advisory Board appointed by the Secretary for the Department of Health and the Department of Health to expand the number of diagnoses eligible for the program.

Since then, the board has approved 14 additional medical conditions, including PTSD and severe chronic pain.

Those two conditions account for the majority of the 68,000 patients holding medical marijuana cards – 33,000 with PTSD and more than 22,000 with severe chronic pain.

Patients with a cancer diagnosis account for 3,700 cardholders – the third leading diagnosis.

The advisory board meets twice a year and has so far declined to add treatment of opioid addiction as one of the qualifying medical conditions.

All of this adds up to a heavy workload for the Medical Cannabis Division of the state Department of Health, which receives from 150 to 800 applications a day from potential patients, according to division director Kenny Vigil.

“It takes 30 days to process, and if approved, it takes five days to mail out a card,” Vigil said. “In five years, no patient has been denied a card.”

Not all cards are issued within 30 days.

The lack of signatures from the prescriber and failure to attach a copy of a New Mexico driver’s license or state identification card are the biggest slowdowns for approval, Vigil said.

The department recommends people renewing their medical marijuana cards submit applications 90 days before their old card expires.

Each application undergoes medical review to make sure the medical provider has authority to prescribe, and the diagnosis in the application falls under the 21 qualifying conditions approved by the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board. Any health care provider with prescription privileges can prescribe medical marijuana.

While the number of licensed producers has remained steady at 35, the number of dispensaries has increased over the past two years. Some are opening in smaller towns.

Each dispensary must comply with local zoning ordinances and is inspected by the cannabis division in terms of location and security.

There are unannounced site inspections, Vigil said.

Legal pot or not? Protecting NM’s medical marijuana industry

Home » News » New Mexico News » Growing the program


Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email yourstory@abqjournal.com

taboola desktop

1
APS' continuing issues with HVAC cause health concerns
ABQnews Seeker
District says it has 385 open ... District says it has 385 open work orders related to air-conditioning
2
NM reporter's rally ejection ignites controversy over press access
ABQnews Seeker
Ronchetti campaign claims journalist's publication is ... Ronchetti campaign claims journalist's publication is a left-wing advocacy company
3
Nonprofit helping vets expands to a new location
ABQnews Seeker
Heroes Walk Among Us aims to ... Heroes Walk Among Us aims to get veterans back on their feet
4
The inaugural New Mexico Asian Film Festival strives to ...
Entertainment
The inaugural festival will take place ... The inaugural festival will take place from 6-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19, at Balloon Fiesta Park. The film festival is part of the two-day ...
5
Bawarchi Biryanis delivers a solid rendition of its namesake ...
Dining Reviews
Prices at Bawarchi – ... Prices at Bawarchi – the word roughly translates into 'chef' – are comparable to those the Heights' two well-established Indian ...
6
Gravity Bound Brewing Co. wins its first NM Brewers ...
Blogs
Gravity Bound Brewing Co. took home ... Gravity Bound Brewing Co. took home the trophy with a hazy IPA. It is the first win for the brewery and it is the ...
7
Vegan festival to feature vendors, cooking demos and more
Entertainment
Red & Green VegFest will takes ... Red & Green VegFest will takes place on Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Albuquerque.
8
Hooveriii to make tour stop at Sister on Friday, ...
Entertainment
Hooveriii (pronounced Hover Three) released 'A ... Hooveriii (pronounced Hover Three) released 'A Round of Applause' in July.
9
NEEDTOBREATHE opening for OneRepublic at Isleta
Entertainment
NEEDTOBREATHE will make a stop on ... NEEDTOBREATHE will make a stop on OneRepublic's 'Never Ending Summer Tour' at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 23, at Isleta Amphitheater.