New Mexico Medical Cannabis Industry Attracts Out-of-State Patients

New Mexico residents are flourishing under the state’s medical cannabis program, and thanks to an August recent court ruling, out-of-state residents are benefiting too.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, recently released numbers from the New Mexico Department of Health show that approximately 130 out-of-state individuals have already enrolled in the state’s medical cannabis program. Of this sum, 119 are patients who reside in Texas, which could lead to a promising future for New Mexico’s medical cannabis program. “ [If] only five percent of two million Texas residents were to enroll in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, enrollment in the Program would increase by 100,000, more than doubling the current enrollment of approximately 77,000 patients,” said Kathy Kunkel, New Mexico Department of Health Secretary. The other 11 applicants allegedly hail from Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Illinois and Kansas, as well as one pending applicant from Mexico.

In August, District Judge Bryan Biedscheid of the Santa Fe District Court ruled that the New Mexico Department of Health must allow out-of-state residents to apply for three-year patient cards, so long as they meet the requirements. Currently, New Mexico is the only state that can allow nonresidents to apply for a New Mexico medical cannabis card. However, the New Mexico Department of Health expressed confusion regarding the state’s initial promises. “The New Mexico Department of Health stands by its original position that the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program is an intrastate program that was never designed for nonresidents. DOH maintains that it is not required by law to enroll non-New Mexico residents as qualified patients in the program,” New Mexico Department of Health Spokeswoman Mari Anixter said in September.

However, Judge Biedscheid’s ruling is being appealed by both Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office, as well as the New Mexico Department of Health. If the Court of Appeals takes action to overturn Judge Biedscheid’s decision, the state may have to rescind ID cards that were issued.

These new figures also exhibited the state’s current standing with overall patient numbers, which notes that 78,362 are currently enrolled. Participation in the medical cannabis program has increased by 25 percent over the past year, with about 3/4 of applicants intending to use cannabis as medicine to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and severe chronic pain. The New Mexico Department of Health also reported that 91 individuals applied for medical cannabis to treat opioid use disorder, 30 for autism and 18 to treat Alzheimer’s disease.

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