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.”

New Mexico Cannabis Producers Pay $2.76 Million By Deadline

NEW MEXICO:  The 35 Licensed NonProfit Producers (LNPPs) of New Mexico’s fully patient funded and self supporting Medical Cannabis Program paid $2.76 million in fees to the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Monday, according to a report released from the NMDOH.

The fees were for a total of 13,800 plants, which serve the state’s 26,568 medical cannabis patients as of June 30, 2016. The current ratio of plants per patient is one half of a plant per patient in New Mexico, while other states such as Colorado approve 6 plants per patient for medical cannabis producers, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue’s 2015 annual Update. On average, 300,000 to 320,000 medical cannabis plants were cultivated each month in Colorado.

New Mexico has the highest per plant fee in the United States, as well as the most restrictive plant count. LNPPs are each allowed a maximum of 450 plants, which total to $90,000 in fees annually per producer. Other states such as Arizona and Nevada do not have plant count limitations and have a fee as low as $1,000 per year per producer.

As more patients enter New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program, which has increased by 74 percent from June 30, 2015 to June 30, 2016, the ratio of plants per patient will dramatically further decrease unless plant count restrictions are loosened or eliminated completely.

“The Medical Cannabis Program is fully self sufficient, as it receives funding solely from patients,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health. “Medical cannabis patients in New Mexico deserve to reap the maximum benefits of this program, and the current plant count limitations issued by the New Mexico Department of Health is keeping them from fully benefitting from an adequate supply of their medicine.”

Along with the Medical Cannabis Program being fully funded by patients, the NMDOH reverted monies from the program fees back into the general fund in 2015, which could have been reinvested into the program to support its exponential growth.

Of the current 35 LNPPs in New Mexico, nearly three quarters of producers are buying the maximum of 450 plants. Of the remaining 10 LNPPs, they purchased between 200 and 300 plants. This data demonstrates that the majority of the industry is securing the nearly maximum number of allowed plants, but will still fall substantially below the expected demand.

After Federal Raids, U.S. Tribes Cautioned About Marijuana

NEW MEXICO: Tribes across the U.S. are finding marijuana is risky business nearly a year after a Justice Department policy indicated they could grow and sell pot under the same guidelines as states.

Federal raids on tribal cannabis operations in California followed by a South Dakota tribe’s move this month to burn its crop amid fears it could be next have raised questions over whether there’s more to complying with DOJ standards than a department memo suggested last December.

The uncertainty — blamed partly on thin DOJ guidelines, the fact that marijuana remains an illegal drug under federal laws, and a complex tangle of state, federal and tribal law enforcement oversight on reservations — has led attorneys to urge tribal leaders to weigh the risks involved before moving forward with legalizing and growing pot.

“Everybody who is smart is pausing to look at the feasibility and risks of growing hemp and marijuana,” said Lance Gumbs, a former chairman of the Shinnecock Tribe in New York and regional vice president of the National Congress of American Indians. “But are we giving up on it? Absolutely not.”

The States That Don’t Want To Legalize Marijuana

Public Service Announcement: 7 states are the party poopers of America. Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Wisconsin, New Mexico and Idaho are the only states—of those where residents were polled—that don’t support legalizing marijuana.

The majority of people in 26 out of 38 states where people were asked about marijuana legalization since 2012 said they supported it, according to a report by The Washington Post. Other states were either divided in opinion or mostly opposed it. For a handful of states, no data was available.

While marijuana legislation mostly happens at the state level, Americans on a national level smoke pot a lot: Nearly 20 million of them said in 2013 that they had used marijuana at some point a month earlier, according to The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. That year, a poll found that 38 percent of Americans have tried marijuana while 7 percent said they were marijuana smokers, Gallup reported.