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.