USDA Approves Hemp Production Plans For Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico And South Dakota

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today announced the approval of hemp production plans under the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program for Indiana, Michigan, New Mexico and South Dakota, bringing the total number of approved plans to 69.

USDA continues to receive and review hemp production plans from states and Indian tribes. To review approved plans or check the status of a plan, visit the Status of State and Tribal Hemp Production Plans webpage.

State and tribal plans previously approved include:

States Tribes
Delaware Blackfeet Nation
Florida Cayuga Nation
Georgia Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes
Illinois Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe
Iowa Chippewa Cree Tribe
Kansas Colorado River Indian Tribes
Louisiana Comanche Nation
Maine Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
Maryland Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians
Massachusetts Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe
Minnesota Fort Belknap Indian Community
Missouri Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Montana Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians
Nebraska La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indian Tribes
New Jersey Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
Ohio Lower Sioux Indian Community
Oklahoma Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida
Pennsylvania Oglala Sioux Tribe
South Carolina Otoe-Missouria Tribe
Tennessee Pala Band of Mission Indians
Texas Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma
Utah Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation
Washington Pueblo of Picuris Tribe
West Virginia Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians
Wyoming Rosebud Sioux Tribe
Puerto Rico Sac & Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa
U.S. Virgin Islands San Carlos Apache Tribe of Arizona
Santa Rosa Cahuilla Indian Tribe
Santee Sioux Nation
Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
Seneca Nation of Indians
Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate Tribe
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe
Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians
Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska
Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo
Yurok Tribe

The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) directed USDA to develop a regulatory oversight program for hemp and include provisions for USDA to approve hemp production plans submitted by states and Indian tribes. Accordingly, on Oct. 31, 2019, USDA issued an interim final rule establishing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program and the provisions for USDA to approve submitted plans. State and tribal plans provide details on practices and procedures that enable hemp producers in their jurisdictions to operate according to their individual plans and in compliance with federal laws.

For additional information about the program, visit the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program webpage.

The Hemp Industry: Where Are We Going? 

By Steven Gluckstern
Chair and CEO, Santa Fe Farms

It’s difficult to predict where the hemp industry will go over the next five years and how it will develop as it is only been just over 22 months since the farm bill of 2018 was passed legalizing hemp for transport across state lines. This legislation opened up an entire new industry for CBD and other hemp related products. What we do know, is that hemp is an extraordinary plant and the industry, although nascent, will have a profound impact both economically and environmentally in both the US and abroad.

What we learned in the first two years of the legalized hemp industry is now that everyone rushed into cultivation, farming may not be the most profitable sector. The primary lesson learned for most people is that when you partner with Mother Nature, she is fickle and almost always wins. Furthermore, unlike corn, soy, and other US agricultural products, the plant needs to go through a transformational process to make it usable for downstream products. Thought of as the narrow center of the hourglass or “chokepoint” of the industry, the plant needs to be processed and/or extracted to be usable for anything other than smokable flower.

While much of the industry is now focused on CBD and other phyto-cannabinoid products (the base of the hourglass), our vision at Santa Fe Farms is much broader and includes not only cultivation, and processing, but industrial hemp for building materials, plastics, paper, and other manufactured goods as well as our own phyto-cannabinoid products. Additionally, we are discovering that carbon-based derivatives obtained through pyrolysis will drive further business in ways we are just beginning to understand and that could have significant impact on both renewable energy and environmental sustainability.

We also believe there is significant opportunity for technology; because this is a nascent industry, the visibility of the hemp supply chain is almost nonexistent. Studying the data is almost impossible but as advanced technologies such as blockchain become “mainstream”, we will soon see efficiencies in cultivation, harvesting, processing, and innovation. We have always thought there was significant opportunity for software as it relates to the hemp supply chain, and with experienced partners have begun investing significant resources to create an industry agnostic “Supply Chain as a Service” platform.

When we started at Santa Fe Farms, we initially thought only about cultivation, but quickly realized that one should make multiple bets to maximize profit one likely had to allocate capital to all parts of the business from seed genetics to retail sale. In the short-term, we believe that prices will stabilize, people will leave the industry (by choice and necessity) and that prices will rise as demand increases.

More interesting however is looking out ten years. As we face the “hemp future,” there is a tremendous lack of visibility of regulation. We can hopefully drive regulation from within by creating products and SOPs that adhere to high quality standards. No one knows what future regulation will look like as it is clearly, at best, a work in progress. However, it represents a place where we can come together as an industry to create policy change, social justice and educational platforms.

Helix Technologies Launches Nation’s First Online MMJ Reciprocity Platform In New Mexico

COLORADO:  Helix Technologies, announced today that New Mexico’s online medical marijuana reciprocity portal is live and has been serving out of state patients living or vacationing in New Mexico for almost a month as of this writing.

The system, which is the first of its kind for US medical cannabis programs, allows state regulators to electronically register and track out of state patients into the patient registry. The system decreases time and costs associated with paper only patient registries and allows the state to track and enforce dispensing limits in real time to prevent potential diversion to the black market.

The new platform benefits all stakeholders in the New Mexico industry as it allows out of state patients a convenient way to access medical cannabis while enjoying the many outdoor and cultural opportunities in New Mexico. Since going live with the reciprocity module on July 1st, more than 1,700 out of state patients have been registered for the program. “We’re encouraged by the ability of this platform to assure people visiting New Mexico get the medicine they need when cannabis has been recommended as a treatment by their medical provider at home,” said New Mexico Department of Health Medical Cannabis Program Director Dr. Dominick Zurlo. “We appreciate the efforts of Helix Biotrack to work with us toward the goal of assuring visiting patients experience uninterrupted treatment and relief for their medical conditions.”

“We are always looking for ways to work with our Government partners to improve transparency, ease of use, and ultimately public safety,” said Helix Biotrack COO Dr. Moe Afaneh. “This is the first step towards digitally bridging states’ medical markets, while ultimately improving access for patients looking to explore New Mexico, bringing in new patients for the industry, and saving everyone time and money in the process. We’re very proud to bring another industry-first innovation to Seed to Sale Tracking, with more to come.”

New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program Continues Growth In Third Quarter

Supply remains in jeopardy as patient enrollment increases at double the rate of industry sales

NEW MEXICO:The 35 licensed commercial producers in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program brought in a record $22.1 million for the third quarter of 2017, an increase of 4 percent from the second quarter.

Patient enrollment increased by over 10 percent, from 44,403 to 48,861, during the same quarterly period.

“Revenue is growing slower than previous quarters and not keeping pace with the dramatic increase of patients enrolled, which is a result of the lowest number of plants per patient in the history of the program,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health. “This product and pricing pressure is likely pushing qualified patients to purchase unsafe medicine from the illegal black market.”

All providers licensed a total of 14,550 plants for the 2017-2018 period, leaving less than one third of a single plant per patient. The plant count ratio will continue to deteriorate each month as patient enrollment increases.

The New Mexico medical cannabis industry is on course to complete 2017 with total projected sales of $85.5 million, which is a 68 percent increase over the $50.6 million achieved in 2016. Patient enrollment is projected to increase by 86 percent from 29,046 patients on January 1, 2017 to 54,091 patients on January 1, 2018.

Third Quarter Breakdown

Ultra Health continues to lead all providers in the third quarter with $2.8 million in sales, an increase of 20 percent since June 30, 2017. The provider currently holds 13 percent of the New Mexico medical cannabis market. Ultra Health currently leads the nation in percentage market share penetration.

The provider attributes its growth in the third quarter to patients’ favorable response to its new pharmaceutical-grade, smokeless medicinal productswhich include sublingual and oral tablets, pastilles, vaginal and rectal suppositories, oils, topicals and patches.

The 23 original providers accounted for 79 percent of the total market share for the third quarter while the 12 newest providers, which were selected in October 2015, held 21 percent altogether.

Ultra Health opened its ninth dispensary location in Silver City on October 17, 2017. The provider now serves seven counties as the nation’s largest vertically integrated medical-only cannabis network.

Six of the 35 licensed producers currently operate without a single retail dispensary location.

Ultra Health Opens Eighth Location, Now In Six N.M. Counties

NEW MEXICO: Ultra Health has announced plans to  officially open its eighth location in Alamogordo, N.M., on Tuesday, August 29th, making the company the largest vertically integrated, seed-to-sale medical cannabis network in the country.

The opening comes after a long-awaited inspection from the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). Ultra Health initially submitted its amendment to open a dispensary in Alamogordo in May of 2016. There are currently more than 45,000 enrollees in the state’s medical cannabis program.

The new Alamogordo dispensary will bring the provider to eight locations serving six counties in New Mexico, more than any other medical cannabis provider in the state. Ultra Health ranks #1 by number of locations in the U.S. among the 21 states that operate medical-only cannabis programs (an additional 8 states have complete legalization for adults).

“Under the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, licensed producers are exclusively granted the authority to produce, possess, distribute and dispense cannabis,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health®. “We are committed to fully exercising these rights to improve the quality of life of the patients we serve. Ultra Health is proud to be actively establishing the highest quality, most accessible and affordable medical cannabis system in the United States.”

Ultra Health plans to increase patient choice and access by continuing to establish new dispensaries in underserved communities including Silver City, Espanola, Los Ranchos, Deming, Sunland Park, Las Vegas, Raton, Tucumcari, Artesia, Gallup, Farmington, Grants, Socorro, Truth or Consequences, Portales, Roswell, Los Alamos, Moriarty, Lovington, and the unincorporated South Valley of Albuquerque.

There are currently 15 New Mexico counties and thousands of medical cannabis patients without access to a full time dispensary. While approval for medical cannabis dispensaries in the rural areas has lagged, the Albuquerque market appears saturated with dispensaries.

As of August 4, there were 25 dispensary locations in Albuquerque serving a patient population of 13,812 enrollees in Bernalillo County. The Albuquerque dispensary density is higher than that of Tucson, Arizona, which has 10 dispensaries serving 18,766 patient enrollees in its respective Pima County. The U.S. Census Bureau (2016) estimates the Albuquerque and Tucson city populations at 559,279 and 530,706 respectively.

Medical Cannabis and Reduced Prescription Use

NEW MEXICO: In a soon-to-be published article in the *Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, *University of New Mexico researchers, in

collaboration with Industrial Rehabilitation Clinics of Albuquerque, followed patients who enrolled voluntarily in the New Mexico state medical cannabis program and found that they significantly reduced their utilization of scheduled prescription medications in the months following enrollment. All prescriptions for scheduled medications must be reported to the New Mexico Prescription Monitoring Program with opiates and benzodiazepines being the two most common. Based on these prescription records, patients enrolled in the medical cannabis program reduced the monthly average number of prescriptions, types of prescriptions (drug classes), number of prescribers, and number of related pharmacy visits. 71% of medical cannabis program enrollees either ceased or reduced their use of scheduled prescriptions within 6 months of enrolling

While other studies on medical cannabis have looked at similar state-level outcomes, this study is the first to take the approach of examining individual patients throughout their enrollment in the medical cannabis program and comparing those patients to a comparison group of similar patients who did not enroll in the medical cannabis program.

The findings of this study indicate that once a patient enrolls in the medical cannabis program there is an increased likelihood that the patient will decrease their usage of scheduled medications. These medications include many drugs of abuse such as opiates, benzodiazepines, and sleeping medications. Opiates in particular are in the public discourse because of the danger of overdose, addiction and death.

New Mexico Medical Cannabis Sales Exceed $50.6 Million In 2016

NEW MEXICO: The Medical Cannabis Program’s total industry revenues from 2015 to 2016 increased by $19.7 million, resulting in $50,638,520 and a growth of 64 percent. Cannabis sales significantly surpassed other notable industries. Comparatively, the New Mexico chile crop was valued at $41.1 million in 2015 and the state’s craft beer industry is expected to generate $30 million in 2016.

The last reported New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) active patient enrollees was 32,840 as of October 2016, an increase of 76 percent from the prior year at 18,628. The growth in total dollar sales continues to lag behind patient enrollee count, validating an underserved demand attributable to the lack of adequate supply in the marketplace. Enrollee information for November and December 2016 has not been released by NMDOH.

The average price per gram in 2016 was $11.28 per gram and the median price was $10.94 per gram. Total grams sold in New Mexico for 2016 was estimated at 4,628,749 grams or 10,205 pounds of cannabis sold. The last reported demand estimates released by NMDOH in 2013 indicated “supply would need to be approximately 5,110,726.4 grams per year,” to meet the needs of  9,760 patients. Based upon NMDOH data, the most recent patient numbers of 32,840 patients would justify a need of over 17.2 million grams or 37,877 pounds annually.

The top five producers accounted for 43 percent of the total sales in New Mexico. On December 31, 2016 the total cannabis flower inventory on hand for the top five producers was 94,929 grams or 209 pounds. Based upon the top five producers’ 2016 sales experience, the inventory on hand represents a supply of less than 15.4 days or approximately a two week supply. Adequate supply is mandated by law “to ensure the uninterrupted availability of cannabis for a period of three months.”

N.M. Medical Cannabis Program Grows To 31,000 Patients

NEW MEXICO: The number of patients in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program reached 30,877 at the end of the third quarter, an increase of more than 4300 since June 30, 2016.  This increase is twice the amount of patients that were added to the program in the same quarter in 2015.  Additionally the program has seen a 76 percent patient growth increase over the past year.

Bernalillo and Santa Fe remain the two largest counties by patient population with 11,396 and 4,070 enrolled patients respectively. Every county¨ excluding Harding and Union counties experienced a double-digit increase in patients in the third calendar quarter. Growth continues to accelerate particularly in the southern and southeastern parts of New Mexico including Dona Ana, Lea, Chaves, Grant, and Eddy counties. Nearly 3,200 patients are living in rural counties without a full-time dispensary.

Dorothy Is Coming To The New Mexico State Fair

NEW MEXICO: Dorothy, a three week old female  plant, will make a 10day appearance at the Ultra Health booth at the New Mexico State Fair September 8 through September 18. This will be the second time a cannabis plant has made an appearance at a state fair in the United States.

Dorothy is an indica hybrid from the Purple Fat Pie strain with a strong grape scent. It’s flower produces euphoric effects for medical cannabis patients and is recommended for medical cannabis patients experiencing symptoms from cancer, PTSD, sleeplessness and lack of appetite.

Dorothy only contains trace levels of THC. “Due to the 450 plant count limit, we could only provide one plant for viewing,” Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health said. “By this time next year we hope to provide a ‘sea of green’ for visitors to enjoy. Ideally, there will soon be a cannabis plant competition for visitors to judge.”

The Oregon Cannabis Growers Fair, an exhibit held at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in August, featured a live plant competition as well as learning opportunities for new and experienced cannabis growers. The exhibit was the first of its kind in the United States.

“We hope that the fair will raise the profile of medical cannabis as an agricultural asset in New Mexico, similar to the Hatch green chile, pecans and p iñon nuts,” Rodriguez said. Dorothy will be located at booth 235 near the entrance of the Manuel Lujan Jr. Exhibit Complex. Products containing only CBD will be available for purchase. These products do not contain THC, the psychotropic compound found in cannabis. Educational materials will also be available at the booth.

N.M. Medial Cannabis Program Surpasses 30,000 Patients

The Medical Cannabis Program reaches all-time high patient numbers in August

NEW MEXICO: The number of patients in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program reached 30,140 this month, including 975 pending applications, according to a document released by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Monday at a legislative meeting in Taos.

NMDOH confirmed in a written statement that zero new patient applications or renewals have been denied during fiscal year 2016. There are currently 6,300 patients with Personal Production Licenses (PPLs), and zero PPL applications have been denied.

“We are pleased to confirm that we are above 30,000 patients and to acknowledge the reality that 100 percent of all applications are approved,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health. “It would be wise to immediately adopt a policy of presumptive eligibility thereby making certain there are no further delays in getting patients their rights to access medical cannabis.”

NMDOH stated that due to an increase in the number of patients in the program, there is an increased demand for medical cannabis in New Mexico.

In the first 50 days of the new fiscal year, the program has already grown by 2,300 patients, and NMDOH expects continued growth in 2017. Nearly 950 new applications are submitted to NMDOH each month. At an annualized rate, the Medical Cannabis Program is currently growing by more than 80 percent each year.

It is estimated that by the end of this fiscal year, the program will grow to 43,400 patients. This number is 2 percent of the New Mexico population. This is comparable to current Colorado and Arizona penetration rates of 2 percent and 1.5 percent, respectively. “Growth does not occur by chance,” Rodriguez said. “Continued growth will only come from the cannabis industry improving access, affordability and product choice.”