In Colorado, Oregon and Washington, medical cannabis systems have been dramatically reduced with the launch of recreational cannabis. What lessons can New Mexico legislators learn from those states as they move forward with new recreational cannabis legalization efforts in the 2020 Legislative session? We talked to patients and producers in those states to see where the biggest problems are. They warned of price spikes, difficulty in finding the medications they need and problems with educational outreach throughout the process.
Lessons from Legalization
As New Mexico closes in on transition to legal cannabis, patient experiences in other states offer guidance
Out of state patients
Santa Fe District Court Judge Bryan Biedscheid on August 5 ordered the Department of Health to allow out of state patients in New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program. The decision came after plaintiffs from Texas and Arizona applied after the updated Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act no longer listed New Mexico residency as a requirement to be a qualified patient. Judge Biedscheid's Writ of Mandamus notes that NMDOH can't ask for a driver's license or proof of New Mexico residency. Before the ruling, DOH had refused to issue patient registry cards to non-residents. The Department of Health has indicated it will issue a response to the writ, and whether it should be made permanent, early this week. (August 19)
Not so fast, says the Gov.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham's office filed a court motion last week to stop New Mexico's Department of Health from issuing medical cannabis cards to out-of-state residents. The governor's office argued that the situation could create issues with interstate transportation of cannabis, something that's beyond the scope of New Mexico cannabis law. Three out of state residents, two from Texas and one from Arizona, filed petitions after their requests for medical cannabis cards were denied by DOH.
Medical enrollment grows
Patient enrollment in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program increased 31 percent from July 2018 to July 2019, with 76,032 patients total by the end of that month. PTSD, cancer and chronic pain are still the main ailments that patients are seeking relief from. Patients suffering from newly added conditions like opioid addiction, Alzheimer's and Autism Spectrum Disorder are not signing up as fast. Only 25 patients have signed up since a new range of conditions was added in June. The Department of Health also has not launched an educational outreach program for the new diseases so far.
Around the Web
Beware of black market vapes
Seven people in Hanford, California have been hospitalized with pneumonia-like conditions after using unregulated cannabis vape cartridges from the black market. Cannabis purchased on the street is not tested or subject to pesticide restrictions in the same way that legal cannabis is, but so far the specific contaminants for those hospitalized have not been identified. The Centers for Disease Control also found a cluster of 15 poisonings in Wisconsin, and also scattered reports in Illinois and Nebraska. The health issues may also be related to recent problems with nicotine vaping, where the Food and Drug administration is investigating 127 cases of people suffering seizures after vaping.
NFL Players and Harvard to study CTE
Retired Detroit Lions wide receiver Calvin Johnson and his teammate, ex-NFL lineman Rob Sims, who also played for the Seattle Seahawks, will partner with Harvard University to study the impacts of medical cannabis on CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. The two former teammates, who own a cannabis company called Primitive, are helping to fund the study and launch a consortium to run clinical trials and study brain injuries and pain, which are common problems for NFL players.
Could you beat Mike Tyson?
The former boxing heavyweight champ may have found a new sport that he's good at – if hotboxing cannabis can be considered a sport. In his podcast "Hotboxin' with Mike Tyson" the fighter claimed that he and his co-host smoke about $40,000 worth of cannabis each month on his California farm. Tyson began development on Tyson Ranch, a 40-acre plot of land near Death Valley National Park, in December 2018. In coming months, Tyson plans to add an edible factory, hyrdo-feed supply store and other features for cannabis consumers in the state.