Within six months, New Mexico plans to phase out medical cannabis cards for out-of-state residents based on Senate Bill 139, which was approved on Feb. 17.
According to The Hour, more than 600 people from Texas, Arizona and other out-of-state medical cannabis patients have traveled to New Mexico to obtain their medicine, thanks to an August 2019 court ruling that was signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham. State officials are claiming that the residency requirement established by that court ruling was unintentionally dropped, and needs to be added back, especially because letting out-of-state patients purchase cannabis could bring a federal crackdown or encourage cannabis trafficking across state lines. The vote by House lawmakers was 44-19 on Feb. 17 to restore the residency requirement.
Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez, however, claimed there is no need for the state to be worried about federal intervention, and that there is nothing wrong with out-of-state patients using New Mexico medical cannabis. Patients who are sick often relocate for legal cannabis quite regularly. “There is no threat of federal intervention,” he told a House committee on health policy according to The Hour. “There is no boogie man.”
This isn’t the first time the local industry has clashed with the law. The struggle between New Mexico officials over how to regulate and keep things under wraps has caused problems, as the state industry has struggled to increase production limits in order to supply patients.
According to New Mexico Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel, those who aren’t residents but are currently enrolled could still keep their cards for up to three years. This would give them time to either relocate, change their IDs or figure out another way to legally obtain their medicine.
New Mexico advocates have been fighting for a strong legal cannabis industry for a while. However, there have been a few setbacks. A recreational cannabis bill was introduced in session semi-recently, but it failed to proceed, despite the fact that even the state’s governor supports legalization.