Ultra Health President and CEO Duke Rodriguez discusses the medical marijuana industry during a tour of the company’s greenhouse on April 6, 2018 in Bernalillo, N.M. (Susan Montoya Bryan,/AP)
A New Mexico law went into effect Tuesday that limits the state’s 35 medical marijuana providers to 1,750 mature plants.
The legislation, which replaces previous guidelines that allowed for 2,500 plants per provider, was adopted by state Health Secretary Kathy Kunkel, according to The Associated Press.
Ultra Health LLC, New Mexico’s largest medical cannabis provider, has voiced its opposition to the cap, arguing that providers won’t have enough supplies for the state’s 76,000 medical marijuana patients.
But the number of patients enrolled in the program could change significantly based on the outcome of a recent lawsuit.
The lawsuit challenges New Mexico’s policy that prohibits out-of-state residents from obtaining medical marijuana cards from the state’s health department. Three people (two from Texas and one from Arizona) filed the lawsuit in July, according to the Albuquerque Journal.
The plaintiffs say a law that went into effect in June removed a requirement that patients in the program have to be New Mexico residents. But the state’s health department claims this change was made so that people from other states who already have medical marijuana cards can purchase cannabis in the state, not so that out-of-staters can obtain a card in the state.
Earlier this month, a district judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, but told the Health Department it had until later in the month to change his mind.
New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham then filed a motion, claiming that Kenny Vigil, who directs the state’s medical marijuana program, «lacks the authority to address law enforcement concerns, approve regulatory action or direct health care policy for our state.»
On Aug. 14, the judge approved her request.
«Although we believe the governor has the right to intervene on broader views on public policy, we still contend the plain language of the law is clear and this plain language will be tough to overrule,» Arizona resident Duke Rodriguez, one of the plaintiffs in the case, told the Albuquerque Journal. Rodriguez is also the president and CEO of Ultra Health LLC.