Thursday, April 5, 2018

New Mexico Department of Health issue’s Medical Cannabis Program Assessment

SANTA FE, N.M. — This first week of April comes with the New Mexico Department of Health releasing a Medical Cannabis Program Assessment and the monthly Medical Cannabis Patient Statistics Report (2018-03-31). There is now more than 50,000 patients benefiting from medical cannabis in New Mexico's medical cannabis program.

The latest figures from the state Health Department show a total of 50,954 patients were enrolled at the end of March. That's an increase of nearly 46 percent from the same time last year. Active Personal Production Licenses (PPLs) from the March report shows 6,847 patients cultivating their own medicine. New Mexico now has 35 licensed non-profit producers or LNPP’s operating 72 medical cannabis dispensaries statewide.

Program enrollment figures show that the top 5 qualifying health conditions that a medical cannabis card is being used for are:
  1. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder 25,039
  2. Severe Chronic Pain 17,001 
  3. Cancer 2,920 
  4. Painful Peripheral Neuropathy 1,377
  5. Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis 998
More than three-fourths (83%) of the program participants list Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (49.1%) or Severe Chronic Pain (33.3%) as a qualifying condition and Patients must meet at least one of the 21 conditions for a medical cannabis card. There is no cost to apply for a medical cannabis card in New Mexico and providers can accept health insurance. Any New Mexico practitioner with prescribing authority can sign a certification for a patient with a qualifying condition. The certifying provider is required to have provider/patient relationship. [ Related Article: ‘Talking to your Doctor about Medical Cannabis’ ]

Qualifying Conditions for the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program
☐ Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)
☐ Cancer (please specify type in clinical notes)
☐ Crohn’s Disease
☐ Epilepsy/Seizure Disorders
☐ Glaucoma
☐ HCV infection and currently receiving antiviral
treatment (please provide proof of antiviral
treatment in clinical notes)
☐ Huntington’s Disease
☐ Hospice Care
☐ Inclusion Body Myositis
☐ Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis
☐ Intractable Nausea/Vomiting
☐ Multiple Sclerosis
☐ Damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord
(please provide proof of objective neurological
indication of intractable spasticity in clinical notes)
☐ Painful Peripheral Neuropathy
☐ Parkinson’s disease
☐ Post‐Traumatic Stress Disorder
☐ Severe Chronic Pain
☐ Severe Anorexia/Cachexia
☐ Spasmodic Torticollis (Cervical Dystonia)
☐ Ulcerative Colitis

The top 5 Counties with the most patients in New Mexico:
  1. Bernalillo 17,633 (35% of all Patients)
  2. Santa Fe 5,736 (11% of all Patients) 
  3. Dona Ana 3,945 (8% of all Patients)
  4. Sandoval 3,655 (7% of all Patients)
  5. Valencia 1913 (4% of all Patients)
State health officials have been careful over the years to expand the list of qualifying health conditions. Still pending are several petitions from 2017, when the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board met twice, once in April and once more in November. The first medical cannabis advisory board hearing for 2018 is on Friday, May 11th from 10 am to 1pm at the Harold Runnels Building (1190 S. St. Francis Drive, Santa Fe, NM). News on the pending final decisions from Health Secretary Gallagher are expected for the following petitions, the advisory board doctors recommended to add into the program. Those recommendations are to allow medical cannabis for: ADD/ADHD, Degenerative Neurological Disorder, Eczema / Psoriasis, Muscular Dystrophy, Post-Concussion Syndrome & TBI, All Types Seizures (such as: psychogenic neurological disorders; Motor Disorders / Motor Development Disorders), and Substance Abuse Disorder(s) (to include Opioid Use Disorder). 

The Advisory Board Doctors also recommended the following four medical treatments be added into the state's medical cannabis program; Pediatric Oncology & Medical Cannabis Use for Antiemetic in State Hospitals(letter of support for policy change), Change/increase possession limit to 16 oz for Patients, Removal of Potency Limit on THC Content for Concentrates, and add Patient Run Collectives. 

All Petitions Provided by Lynn & Erin Compassionate Use Act Patients Coalition (LECUA) of New Mexico Can Be Viewed Online At: LECUA NM MCP MCAB Petitions .

We did not see any lawmakers act on these recommendations from 2017 during the 30 day legislative session for 2018 either, but lawmakers and the Governor did decide to pass legislation for GW Pharmaceuticals (HB-139 “Marijuana Derivative Drug Exemptions”). The big pharma bill, lead by Rep. D Armstrong and a out-of-state lobbyist, was a direct result of a foreign pharmaceutical company, GW Pharmaceuticals, using their vast wealth to pay lobbyist to bring this forward. This legislation signed by Governor Martinez, makes it way to easy for George Soros and German Bayer AG, that has a signed an agreement with GW Pharmaceuticals for joint research on a cannabis-based extract. And Bayer AG agreed to an exchange of technology with … Monsanto, both according to exchange the results of their research. Thus Monsanto has discreet access to the work of the cannabis plant and its genetic modification.

That bill was a gateway drug bill for big pharma into the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program.

Medical Cannabis Program Assessment- April 2018
During 2017 the Medical Cannabis Program office has continued to do a really nice job in maintaining the administrative aspect of the program with a application processing time average of 20 days. The program office continues to grow as well, with a new medical director, Dr. Leah Roberts, adding a health educator, adding a environmental scientist, and currently seeking to fill a couple other positions as well.

Patient enrollment has been accelerating over the past 24 months. Enrollment increased by
more than 14,400 patients between the end of January 2017 and the end December 2017. Each day, the Medical Cannabis Program receives between 150 and 600 patient applications. The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act requires the Medical Cannabis Program to approve or deny completed patient applications within 30 days of receiving the application. It also requires the Medical Cannabis Program to print and mail a registry card within five days of approving an application.

In Fiscal Year 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017), the Medical Cannabis Program approved 90 percent of completed patient applications within 30 days. And the Medical Cannabis Program printed and mailed 99 percent of patient registry cards within five days of application approval.

The medical cannabis program office also launched a new version of the patient application in March 2018, with changes that help both patients and certifying practitioners. The application is reduced from four pages to two and can be completed electronically then printed for signing. Certifying practitioners must now send medical records with the proof of provider visit form instead of having to write lengthy explanations as required on the previous applications. Additional changes include easier-to-read font, and instruction pages for applicants and certifying practitioners. [ Related Article: ‘Recommending Medical Cannabis In New Mexico: A Resource For Medical Professionals’ ]

Review the Medical Cannabis Program Assessment- April 2018 Report here:

Patient Application Review Process
Patient applications undergo two reviews.
1. Administrative Review: MCP has nine full time employees dedicated to reviewing
patient applications to ensure all required information is completed in an application.
2. Medical Review: The Medical Director reviews patient applications to determine whether
the information submitted meets medical eligibility requirements for enrollment in the

Licensed Non-profit Producers
The Medical Cannabis Program has 35 Licensed Non-profit Producers (LNPPs). LNPPs grow and distribute medicine to qualified patients. Patients are not assigned to an LNPP, and can visit any dispensary they would like. At the end of 2017, there were 68 dispensaries operating in 19 counties. MCP strives to update the Dispensary List online once a month. It can be found at .

For patients in rural areas, and for patients who cannot leave their homes, MCP approves couriers to deliver medical cannabis to their homes. At the end of 2017, there were three approved couriers. Patients can inquire about delivery through a courier service by talking to an LNPP.Courier service is available statewide.

In addition to courier service, an LNPP, as part of their distribution plan, can also deliver medical cannabis. As of the 2017/2018 re-licensure period, at least 5 LNPPs were providing delivery service themselves (not through a courier service).

At the end of 2017, there were three approved laboratories, one in Bernalillo County, one in Santa Fe County and one in Dona Ana County. The approved laboratories are:
  1. Rio Grande Analytics (Dona Ana County) 
  2. Scepter Lab (Santa Fe County) 
  3. Steep Hill (Bernalillo County) 
The MCP has a partnership with the Scientific Laboratory Division (SLD). SLD performs compliance audits of the laboratories testing cannabis. MCP and SLD are also working to create a quality assurance lab for medical cannabis.

Conclusion by the Department of Health
MCP is committed to improving customer service to patients, while ensuring statutory and
regulatory requirements are followed. In 2017, MCP restructured its office. In addition to a more focused emphasis on testing compliance with the addition of an Environmental Scientist, MCP redesigned the Health Educator position duties. The Health Educator is less involved in the day to-day duties related to processing patient applications and more focused on creating outreach material and talking to stakeholders about the program. For information on how to request a presentation about the medical cannabis program, you can email .

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, under chapter 210 Senate Bill 523, has been providing access to medical cannabis in New Mexico for over 10 years and it was 40 years ago that New Mexico made history in 1978; after public hearings the legislature enacted H.B. 329, the nation’s first law recognizing the medical value of cannabis…the first law.