A mysterious illness associated with vaping has led to health department warnings for people to not vape THC products. But those in the industry note that almost all of the illnesses were associated with black market products, and not those available through legal markets. While caution is appropriate, legally regulated companies also say the warnings are overly broad and could hurt their legitimate business.

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Amidst blanket warnings against vaping all THC, local dispensaries worry about business

Regional News

State issues first Arizona license

On September 6, Duke Rodriguez of Ultra Health, a medical cannabis provider in New Mexico and one of the state's former cabinet secretaries, became the first Arizona patient in New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program. He and two petitioners from Texas sued the state to allow them to enroll in August after a change in the law that got rid of the residency requirement and allowed any "person" to register for a card.

State District Judge Bryan Biedscheid ruled in favor of Rodriguez and the other two patients in August.

If the ruling stands, it could draw more rural Arizonans on the New Mexico border to participate in the program, as there are few dispensaries available in those areas.

Cannabis program grows 34 percent

New Mexico's Medical Cannabis Program grew 34 percent from August 2018 to August 2019, according to information from the New Mexico Department of Health.

The fastest-growing counties for enrollment are in southern New Mexico. The top five fastest growing, with at least 500 cardholders each, include Otero, Curry, Socorro, Grant and Doña Ana counties. Enrollment growth in counties along New Mexico's northern border with Colorado has been slower, indicating patients may be traveling across the border to get medication in Colorado through its recreational system.

As of August 31, 2019, there were 77,141 patients enrolled in the program.

Task force opposes state stores

A cannabis legalization task force created by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham won't recommend creating a system of state-run stores to distribute products.

Instead the task force will propose that the state license businesses to grow and sell recreational cannabis and create a regulation system for stores. Individual cities or counties would be responsible for zoning and how many stores are allowed in each area. That type of system is common in other states, and mirrors New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program.

Lujan Grisham has indicated she will make recreational legalization a priority for the 2020 30-day session of the Legislature.

Around the Web

Banking chair wants to serve industry

US Senate Banking Chairman Mike Crapo wants to vote on legislation to help banks serve cannabis-related businesses. It's a bit of an odd move for the Idaho Republican, who doesn't support lifting the federal ban on cannabis, but in an interview with POLITICO, he said he wanted to fix legal and economic problems that are happening in a growing number of states that have legalized.

The House is expected to pass legislation to protect banks from federal penalties later this year, although Crapo said he may write his own bill. For Crapo, the decision is based on the damage the restrictions cause to ancillary companies, like plumbers and hardware stores, that provide services to the cannabis industry.

British man with 700 plants got “carried away”

An English man caught with nearly 700 cannabis plants in his garden shed said he got "carried away" trying to ease his chronic pain.

Police raided the home of Charles Nichols, 67, in Norfolk, England in 2018 after a drone indicated a heat signature from the shed. He originally told police he was breeding birds, but officers investigated and found hydroponic equipment, lights, bagging equipment and 693 plants.

Nichols told police he got carried away after getting the idea for cannabis cultivation from Netflix.

Nichols and his wife were charged, and Nichols' got a two-year suspended jail sentence. His wife was found not guilty.

Alcohol, cigarettes seen as more dangerous than cannabis

In a new poll, Americans were twice as likely to say that alcohol is "very dangerous" when compared to cannabis. Respondents also said cigarettes and e-cigarettes were similarly dangerous when compared to cannabis. In the poll, 81 percent said tobacco cigarettes were "very harmful," 51 percent said alcohol was "very harmful" and just 26 percent ranked cannabis as "very harmful."