New Mexico raises cap for medical marijuana producers - Albuquerque Journal

New Mexico raises cap for medical marijuana producers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — New Mexico’s medical marijuana producers have received approval from state regulators to temporarily boost by fivefold the number of plants they are allowed to grow as the result of a legal battle centered on concerns about demand and adequate supplies.

The state health department issued is an emergency rule change last Friday, when a court order invalidating the state’s 450-plant limit was set to kick in.

The amendment sets the cap at 2,500 plants per producer at least through Aug. 28. It will be up to the health department to launch a public process over the next six months for crafting a permanent rule that governing how many plants will be allowed.

Without the change, state officials said there would not have been any restrictions in place and producers would have been able to grow an unlimited number of marijuana plants.

“The department has determined regulation of cannabis production is necessary to ensure the health and safety of New Mexico residents,” Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel said in a letter announcing the amendment. “Further, regulation will help to ensure that our state’s citizens may access medical cannabis without fear of interference from the federal government.”

The move was praised by patients and producers, who have long voiced concerns about shortages as the number of licensed patients has grown exponentially.

Before the court ruled in November, the health department had not revisited the plant limit since 2014 despite the increase in patients. There are now nearly 70,000 active patients, up 40 percent over the past year.

The lawsuit was brought by the state’s largest producer, Ultra Health, and by Nicole Sena, who uses cannabis oil and medical marijuana products to treat her daughter’s rare form of epilepsy. Sena has said the treatments called for a significant amount of cannabis material and she was having a hard time finding a licensed producer who could provide enough.

Ultra Health CEO and president Duke Rodriguez said Monday that any new regulation needs to be more sophisticated than just multiplying the former limitations.

“We look forward to working collaboratively with the state to develop a rule consistent with patient needs by providing meaningful data and research from the experience of accessible medical markets in other states,” Rodriguez said in a statement.

Ultra Health plans to boost production at its growing operations to meet the temporary cap of 2,500 plants while the state works on the final rule.

The debate over the cap comes as New Mexico lawmakers consider a host of marijuana-related bills — from proposed legalization of recreational use to changes aimed at making it easier to qualify for the medical pot program.

Patients currently must meet at least one of 21 conditions to qualify for a medical marijuana card.

Of the patients enrolled as of the end of January, slightly more than half of them listed post-traumatic stress disorder as a condition. Other conditions include severe chronic pain and cancer.


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

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop

MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS

1
New Mexico educators rally amid growing teacher shortage
ABQnews Seeker
Educators on Sunday called on state ... Educators on Sunday called on state lawmakers to do something about the shortage of teachers in New Mexico, saying schools are at a critical ...
2
Two-vehicle crash in Northeast Albuquerque leaves 1 seriously injured
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque Police Department officers were dispatched ... Albuquerque Police Department officers were dispatched to a two-vehicle crash that left one person in critical condition late Saturday, according to a news release. ...
3
Shooting in Southwest Albuquerque leaves 1 in critical condition
ABQnews Seeker
Albuquerque police say one person is ... Albuquerque police say one person is in the hospital in critical condition after a shooting near Central and Coors early Sunday morning. Albuquerque Police ...
4
College athlete deals risk tax-free scholarships
ABQnews Seeker
The college football bowl season is ... The college football bowl season is over.
5
Emptying the Notebook: Lobo Allen-Tovar steps up at Wyoming
ABQnews Seeker
Some extra notes, stats, quotes and ... Some extra notes, stats, quotes and whatever else I could to empty out of the old notebook after UNM's close loss at Wyoming
6
Finding redemption in prison
ABQnews Seeker
Los Lunas inmates provide compassion, hope ... Los Lunas inmates provide compassion, hope to peers
7
Investigation into officer's death a 'slap in the face,' ...
ABQnews Seeker
NMSP officer gunned down by federally-wanted ... NMSP officer gunned down by federally-wanted suspect during traffic stop on Feb. 4
8
'Honest' Martínez rises in ranks to House leadership
ABQnews Seeker
Lawmaker backs diverse legislation on education, ... Lawmaker backs diverse legislation on education, cannabis and tax rates
9
New approach to teaching race in school divides NM
ABQnews Seeker
Students would learn about social identity ... Students would learn about social identity under new plan