And three's a charm. Andrea Alano, who works staff in the state's Medical Cannabis Program, submitted her resignation this week, confirms Department of Health spokeswoman Aimee Barabe.


Alano follows the footsteps of former program czar Dominick Zurlo and former program coordinator Donna Armijo, who also recently resigned. Her move also means all three of the program's administrators have resigned from the program within a six-week period. Both Zurlo and Armijo officially left at the end of November.

The program, which prescribes medical marijuana to patients who meet one of 16 conditions, has dealt with its share of difficulties this year. In the spring, many complained that supply wasn't adequate enough to meet patient needs. By fall, several patients were waiting far longer than the state-regulated maximum of 30 days to receive a renewal of their medical marijuana licenses.

The DOH responded by hiring five temporary employees to address the backlog. The agency has promised to make the temporary positions permanent.

Butch Catanach is temporarily in charge of the program, Barabe says. She anticipates the DOH will start actively looking for a permanent replacement for Zurlo next week.

Although the DOH doesn't comment on personnel matters, many speculate the resignations have to do with the current administration's neglect toward the program. In fall of 2010, the soon-to-be-Gov. Susana Martinez often expressed her opposition to the program for putting state employees at the risk of violating federal law, which recognizes marijuana as an illegal substance.