New Mexico Finalizes Medical Marijuana Rules

The New Mexico Department of Health has finalized regulations for the registry identification cards and a production/distribution system for its medical cannabis program.

The Department will accept applications from nonprofit businesses interested in producing and distributing medical cannabis for patients in New Mexico; qualified patients can also apply to produce medical cannabis for themselves.

“We have worked hard to create a medical cannabis program that will be viable and meet the needs of patients in New Mexico,” said Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil. “Now patients can get medical cannabis for their chronic health conditions in a way that is safe and legal under state law.”

The regulations provide for two kinds of licensed producers: a qualified patient who can produce up to 4 mature plants and 12 seedlings for personal use only and a nonprofit private entity that can produce a total of 95 mature plants and seedlings and an inventory of usable marijuana that reflects current patient needs at any time. The Health Secretary will consider the health needs of qualified patients and the public safety in determining the number and location of licenses that the Department of Health approves.

Based on public comments, the Department revised its regulations regarding verification of applicant information, monitoring actions and requirements for a non-profit board. The Department also changed its application fees for patients applying to be producers, allowing the fee to be waived depending on the patient’s income. The regulations include measures to prevent the unauthorized use of marijuana.

The Department will evaluate the regulations and provide an annual report to the Health Secretary to determine whether patients’ needs are being met and whether a state-run production and distribution facility is needed.

The Department of Health also revised its regulations regarding the registry identification cards after receiving feedback during three public hearings. The regulation allows patients to possess 6 ounces of medical marijuana. Due to concerns that the amount was inadequate, the revised rule allows the Department to consider an amount greater than 6 ounces if a practitioner explains why a larger dose is needed.

Since the program began in 2007, the Department has approved 207 applications from chronically ill patients who are eligible to receive medical marijuana to seek relief from their pain. State law specifies seven health conditions that are eligible for medical cannabis. The law also allows people to petition the Department to add new medical conditions.

The Department’s Medical Advisory Board will hold a public hearing at 9 a.m. January 15 at Los Griegos Community Center, 1231 Candelaria NW, in Albuquerque to review petitions to include new health conditions in the program. The board’s eight board-certified physicians will consider petitions that have been previously submitted to the Department of Health.

To apply for the Medical Cannabis Program, to be a licensed producer or to petition for a new condition, go to the New Mexico Department of Health or call the Medical Cannabis Program Coordinator at (505) 827-2321.

– Article from the New Mexico Business Weeklyon January 9, 2009.