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New Mexico Officials Won’t Qualify Out-of-State Cannabis Patients Despite Law Changes

Officials with New Mexico’s Health Department are refusing to qualify out-of-state residents for the state’s medical cannabis program, despite a recent rule change for the program removing the residency requirement from the definition of “qualified patient.”

Full story after the jump.

New Mexico non-residents are not allowed to apply for a medical cannabis card in the state despite an amendment to the law that deleted the residency requirement from the definition of “qualified patient,” the Albuquerque Journal reports. The amendment does allow out-of-state medical cannabis patients to access the state program while in the state starting in 2020.

State Department of Health officials told the Journal that allowing non-residents to obtain a medical cannabis card would encourage transport of the products across state lines, which violates both state and federal laws.

“For this and other reasons, the department does not believe it would reasonable to interpret the statute as permitting nonresidents to enroll in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program.” — Health Department spokesman David Morgan, to the Journal.

Licensed medical cannabis company Ultra Health LLC is threatening to file a lawsuit against the agency if it fails to adopt the non-resident rule within 14 days. CEO Duke Rodriguez said that “every attorney” the company has had review the amendment has indicated “there’s no dispute” with the language.

The Health Department said they would comply with the reciprocity rules but would not change the residency requirements.

The recent legislature-approved changes also sparked some confusion for individuals in the custody of the Corrections Department, namely inmates and those awaiting trial. The law includes language stating that persons “serving a period of probation or parole or who is in the custody or under the supervision of the state or a local government pending trial as part of a community supervision program shall not be penalized for conduct” permitted by the state’s medical cannabis law.

Rodriguez contends that the language would allow inmates to use medical cannabis while incarcerated.

“Inmates, by law, must be provided reasonable health care by the state. If medical cannabis is a sanctioned activity by the state, then it seems logical by public policy that these inmates would have reasonable access,” he said in an April interview with NM Political Report. “I’m not sure why there would be any confusion.”

Ultra Health has previously sued the state as part of a 2016 lawsuit over plant caps that ultimately raised cultivation limits for licensed producers from 450 to 2,5000.

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