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New Mexico Is Making Changes to Medical Marijuana Program

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New Mexico’s medical marijuana program is growing in big volumes. To help prevent any hiccups, the Department of Health is making some changes

One modification is that the state may begin allowing for online patient applications, according to Albuquerque Journal. Seven new staff members will also be hired. One hire will be an investigator and another will be an environmental scientist.

At the end of September, the state reports having 48,861 registered active patients. This is an increase of 9,950 patients since September 2013.

Some lawmakers are still concerned about supply meeting demand, but measures are also being taken to ensure that supply does meet demand. Some are also concerned about the list of qualifying conditions.

Senator Gerald Ortiz y Pino said, “They’re making an effort to make this program what it has been described as all along – a medical program.”

The two most common ailments patients are qualifying for are severe chronic pain and PTSD.

New Mexico Health Secretary Lynn Gallagher rejected an advisory board recommendation to add opiate addition and Alzheimer’s disease to the qualifying conditions list. Governor Susana Martinez also vetoed efforts to add opiate addiction.

A letter will be sent to Lynn Gallagher asking for her reconsideration in adding opiate addiction to the qualifying conditions list. Several groups support this addition.

Jessica Gelay from Drug Policy Alliance said, “We know that cannabis is a bridge to recovery and that it helps people who are in recovery stay in recovery.”

The state still has an issue with backlogged applications for medical marijuana cards. Approved applicants must receive approval or denial within 30-days of their applications being submitted. Ortiz y Pino believes that the state’s backlog is “largely fixed” as Martinez’s administration remains leery of marijuana being a legitimate medicine.

The Department of Health is seeking options to improve the overall operation of the state’s program. If the online application process is approved, patients still have to submit the same information, which includes a valid certification of diagnosis.