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.

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.