New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Reciprocity Rule Changes Declared Unlawful

A New Mexico district court judge ruled this week that the Department of Health is not allowed to deny medical cannabis program reciprocity for out-of-state patients.

Full story after the jump.

A district court judge in New Mexico on Monday ruled that the state Department of Health has been running afoul of the Legislature’s intent by denying reciprocity to out-of-state patients in the state’s medical cannabis program, the Santa Fe New Mexican reports. The lawsuit was brought against the agency by New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health.

According to the report, state law allows someone with a medical cannabis card in another state to purchase cannabis in New Mexico and be enrolled in the Health Department’s database as a reciprocal patient. In March, the agency made a rule change and barred not only reciprocal patients from other states from enrolling in New Mexico’s program but also denied in-state residents from enrolling as patients if they would otherwise qualify as reciprocal patients, First District Judge Matthew Wilson ruled.

Ultra Health argued that more than 5,000 people, mostly out-of-staters, were being wrongly denied access to medical cannabis by the rule change, for which health officials had enacted without consulting the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Advisory Board as required by the state statute, the report says.

Next month, licensing for cannabusiness will shift from the Department of Health to the Regulation and Licensing Department’s Cannabis Control Division following the legislature’s approval of the reforms in April.

Last year, Wilson also overturned an “emergency” rule change by the Health Department saying there was no reason to change the reciprocity rules without going through the normal process for rule changes. The Department of Health, ultimately, altered that rule through the standards process, the report says.

Department of Health spokesman Jim Walton said in an email to the New Mexican that the agency “is considering its legal options” following the ruling.

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