3 out-of-state residents get medical cannabis cards

SANTA FE – New Mexico’s health agency has issued medical marijuana identification cards to three out-of-state residents who won a court judgment against the state last week.

But as of Friday, the Department of Health had not issued any additional ID cards to non-New Mexicans, as it weighs its legal options.

In a letter, the agency told at least one of the out-of-state residents who was issued an ID card that it intends to appeal the judge’s ruling and the card could ultimately be revoked, depending on the appeal’s outcome.

District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid ruled last week that New Mexico must allow nonresidents to participate in its medical cannabis program, after the definition of a qualified patient was changed in a bill signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

State attorneys had argued the statute change was not aimed at allowing out-of-state residents to participate in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program, while also saying that such a shift would encourage the transport of cannabis across state lines, which is illegal under both federal and state laws.

Two people from Texas and one from Arizona had filed an emergency petition with the court last month over the Department of Health’s denial of their applications to be license-carrying members of New Mexico’s medical cannabis program.

One of those plaintiffs was Duke Rodriguez, an Arizona resident and the president and CEO of Ultra Health LLC, a prominent licensed medical marijuana producer.

An Ultra Health spokeswoman said Friday the company is willing to provide financial help to out-of-state residents who have had their applications for state medical cannabis cards rejected on residency grounds.

“The judge made a very clear determination – without any confusion – that New Mexico residency is plainly and unambiguously not a requirement to receive a three-year medical cannabis patient registry card,” Ultra Health spokeswoman Marissa Novel told the Journal.

She also said that those who live just outside New Mexico’s borders – including Texans and Mexican nationals – are among those now eligible to receive medical cannabis cards, provided they meet other criteria.

DOH spokesman David Morgan said Friday he did not know how many total applications the agency had received from out-of-state residents.

He said state Medical Cannabis Program administrators typically review and process applications within 30 days of getting them. The applications are handled in chronological order, and the ones currently under review were submitted during the week before the judge’s ruling.

New Mexico launched its medical marijuana program in 2007 and there are currently 28 qualifying conditions. There were 77,141 active patients enrolled in the program as of August.

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