By Marjorie Childress, posted on the NewMexicoIndependent.com
The New Mexico Department of Health is expanding its medical cannabis program with the approval of six new nonprofits that will grow the drug for patients. That brings the total number of such producers to 17.
There are currently 2,807 medical marijuana patients, with 1,266 of those having individual permits to grow for their own personal use. In addition to the new non-profits, the Department is also considering changes to the regulations that govern the program.The next public hearing about the proposed changes will be on December 2.
“This will help patients in New Mexico get the medicine they need safely and legally under State law,” Secretary of Heath Alfredo Vigil said in a statement. “We are consistently examining our program to ensure our patients needs are met without jeopardizing public safety.”
The six new producers are located in San Juan, Sierra, San Miguel, Bernalillo and Santa Fe counties. The previously approved producers are in Santa Fe, Cibola, Harding, Doña Ana, Lea, Catron and Bernalillo counties.
The producers will have eight weeks to bring their operations up to speed, and then their contact information will be distributed by the department to patients. It will take three to six months, however, before they have medical marijuana for sale.
Each producer is limited to 95 mature plants and seedlings, and they may also have a limited supply of marijuana on hand in addition to the plants. In addition to the nonprofit producers, patients themselves may acquire a permit to grow up to four mature marijuana plants and 12 seedlings, for their own personal use. New Mexico does not allow caregivers of patients to grow the drug, however, unlike some other states.
The Department will hold another public hearing to receive input on proposed changes to the regulations that govern the program. The hearing will be held 9:30 a.m. Dec. 2 in the Harold Runnels Building auditorium in Santa Fe. The Department made changes to its proposed regulations based on comments it received at an August public hearing.
“This gives the public another chance to review our proposals and make suggestions about how we can improve our program,” Dr. Vigil said.
New proposed changes include:
*Implementing an annual fee for nonprofit producers based on how long the nonprofit has been operating (previously proposed 7 percent fee on gross annual revenue). The fees would be $5,000 for producers licensed less than one year, $10,000 for more than one year, $20,000 for more than two years and $30,000 for more than three years.
*Eliminating the proposed open and closed application periods
*Removing size requirements from definition of mature plant and size limits from definition of seedling
*Allowing nonprofit producers to get plants, seeds and useable cannabis from other licensed nonprofit producers
There are 16 conditions for which medical cannabis is allowed: severe chronic pain, painful peripheral neuropathy, intractable nausea/vomiting, severe anorexia/cachexia, hepatitis C infection currently receiving antiviral treatment, Crohn’s disease, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Inflammatory Autoimmune-mediated Arthritis, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease), cancer, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord with intractable spasticity, epilepsy, HIV/AIDS, and hospice care.