Data regarding New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program activity released by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) indicates the program is experiencing a dangerously-low supply of medical cannabis statewide. The levels of available medicine as of December 31, 2018, have been cut in half compared to stock levels at the end of 2017, while patient enrollment has nearly doubled.
In NMDOH’s 2018 Fourth Quarterly Summary, the total grams in stock at the end of the fourth quarter in 2018 for flower and bud was reported at 1,086,537 grams. Comparatively, the total grams in stock at the end of the fourth quarter in 2017 was reported at 1,717,262 grams.
The number of grams available per patient was 37 grams at the end of 2017, while the grams available for each patient dropped by more than half to 16 grams per patient at the end of 2018. The amount of cannabis available per patient is far below the statutory requirement of adequate supply, which mandates an uninterrupted availability of cannabis for a period of three months.
The supply levels are also a major issue because the program has grown by more than 21,000 patients over the same period with 46,645 patients at the end of 2017 and 67,574 patients at the end of 2018.
Patients, advocates, and the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board have consistently voiced concerns over a lack of medicine statewide for nearly six years.
“The treacherously low levels of available medicine for the most vulnerable New Mexicans have triggered an acute access issue which will quickly evolve into a full public health crisis,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health. “Routinely, patients turn to cannabis when they have no other option. If providers are prohibited from producing the medicine required to ensure the beneficial use of cannabis, the program is essentially forcing more than 70,000 people to alleviate the symptoms of their debilitating chronic conditions with black market marijuana that may otherwise deteriorate their conditions even further.”
In November, Santa Fe District Court Judge David K. Thomson ordered NMDOH from enforcing the 450 plant count rule, stating the limit was arbitrary, capricious, and impeded the intent of the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act. The Judge stayed his ruling for 120 days in order for NMDOH to revise its regulation.
As of Feb 28, NMDOH had not published any notices, hearings, or surveys regarding any regulatory revision, despite nearing the judge’s deadline.