The New Mexico Department of Health is still refusing to issue medical cannabis patient cards to out-of-state residents as the agency awaits a decision from the judge that ordered the department to begin issuing cards to non-residents, the Albuquerque Journal reports. The ruling stems from an amendment to the medical cannabis law that removed the residency requirement from the definition of “qualified patient.”
District Judge Bryan Biedscheid made the ruling last month; the medical cannabis law reform bill was signed by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham earlier this year. State attorneys argued that the change was a drafting error and it was not designed to allow non-residents to obtain medical cannabis cards in New Mexico. The state argues that the changes would encourage cannabis transport across state lines, which is illegal under state and federal law.
Following the ruling, the Health Department did issue ID cards to three individuals who were included in the lawsuit against the state.
Attorney Brian Egolf, who is also the speaker of the state House of Representatives, told the Journal the Health Department has “no legal authority … to ignore the court’s orders and commands and not to comply with the court’s directives.”
Health Department Spokesman David Morgan indicated that the court battle is ongoing, and the judge’s decision is not yet final.
“Due to the pendency of the motions before the District Court, the court’s ruling is not yet final, and as noted, the court’s ruling may be stayed pending an appeal.” – Morgan, to the Journal
The state contends that, if upheld, the number of patients enrolled in the state’s cannabis program could double. As of August, there were 77,141 enrolled patients in the state.
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