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Is Medical Cannabis Legal in New Mexico?

Is Medical Cannabis Legal in New Mexico?

Governor Bill Richardson signed a law in April 2007 allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana to some seriously ill patients to manage symptoms such as pain and nausea. This bill is known as The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Act or The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, which permits ‘the beneficial use of medical cannabis in a regulated system’ to relieve symptoms caused by debilitating medical conditions and their medical treatments. This act also established the Medical Cannabis Program, which is under the New Mexico Department of Health. 

But this was not the first  or only time that the State of Mexico pushed for the legalization of medical cannabis. In fact, the state of New Mexico became the first to pass legislation authorizing the medicinal use of cannabis in 1978, when Lynn Pierson, a cancer patient, pleaded with legislators to let him use the drug to help with his treatment. 

The bill was known as the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, which authorized the use of cannabis through a Food and Drug Administration-approved research program that used cannabis supplied by the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Approximately 250 cancer patients received cannabis or THC between 1978 and 1986, and the research program was eventually renamed the Lynn Pierson Therapeutic Research Program to honor Pierson.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed Senate Bill 406 into law in April 2019, the first significant change to the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act since it was introduced in 2007. The bill included the following reforms: 

  • allow medical cannabis use in public schools for qualified students
  • ensure that medical marijuana patients do not lose custody of their children.
  • provide employment protections for patients in non-safety sensitive occupations
  • allow patients to renew their medical cannabis card every three years rather than annually
  • allow medical cannabis cardholders from other states to use cannabis in New Mexico
  • allow medical cannabis consumption at dispensaries 
  • prevent denial of an organ transplant due to being a medical cannabis patient

New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program

New Mexico is a state that has a cannabis policy designed explicitly to protect the health and well-being of its residents. Its medical cannabis program is intended to help those with qualifying conditions, such as chronic pain and cancer. 

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act established the Medical Cannabis Program. The goal of this Act is to enable the safe and effective use of medicinal cannabis in a controlled system to treat debilitating medical diseases and their treatments. The program is handled by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH).

Qualifying Conditions

There are nearly 30 qualifying conditions in New Mexico that make residents eligible for the medical cannabis program. The following are the qualifying conditions:

  • ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Cancer
  • Chronic pain
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Epilepsy/seizure disorder
  • Friedrich’s ataxia
  • Glaucoma
  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Hospice care
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Inclusion body myositis
  • Inflammatory autoimmune-mediated arthritis
  • Intractable nausea/vomiting
  • Lewy body disease
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Opioid use disorder
  • Painful peripheral neuropathy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • PTSD
  • Severe anorexia/cachexia
  • Spasmodic Torticollis
  • Spinal cord nerve tissue damage
  • Spinal muscular atrophy
  • Ulcerative colitis

Patients may submit requests to the New Mexico Department of Health to add their condition to the list of qualifying conditions if they believe cannabis can be of benefit to their condition.

Qualifying Patients

In addition to possessing one or more of the qualifying conditions, a qualified patient must be able to show residency in New Mexico by presenting a current driver’s license or state identification card. Furthermore, the patient must be at least 18 years old. If a patient is under the age of 18, a legal guardian or parent may register on their behalf.

Healthcare Providers & Practitioners

Healthcare providers and practitioners are defined as medical personnel licensed to prescribe and dispense controlled substances in New Mexico for the purposes of this program. The Medical Cannabis Program values the doctor-patient relationship, which is vital to preserving confidence and trust in the program.

Caregivers

The patient’s practitioner designates a primary caregiver to be responsible for the well-being of a qualifying patient who is using cannabis for medical purposes. New Mexico residency is required for the primary caregiver. A caregiver must be at least 18 years old.

New Mexico Medical Marijuana Card

There are two different forms of medical marijuana cards: a registry card and a caregiver card. Patients can seek registry cards from the state government or their local health department, and they can become caregivers by signing up with the state. 

The medical marijuana card is a document that allows patients to purchase cannabis from licensed cannabis retailers, producers, and testing facilities. It is not valid for purchase of alcohol and tobacco products.

New Mexico has a low rate of medical marijuana use, meaning that there are few people with registry cards. The New Mexico Medical Cannabis Act limits the number of dispensaries to 16 throughout the state, and the state limits the number of patients that a dispensary can serve to 4,500.

To obtain a New Mexico medical marijuana card, you must first determine whether you qualify for a card by contacting your doctor.

New Mexico Medical Marijuana Card Application

For Patients 

Applicants must either be a resident of New Mexico for at least six months or have a valid New Mexico driver’s license or state ID. Each card is valid for two years. The application process is the same for new and returning patients. To apply, fill out the Medical Cannabis Patient Application.

For Caregivers

Interested applicants must fill out the Medical Cannabis Caregiver Application to become a personal caregiver for an existing patient. They must also include a copy of the New Mexico driver’s license or state ID card. Temporary New Mexico identification cards are accepted.

Applications for New Mexico medical marijuana cards can be submitted online. Once you’ve completed the application process, you can visit your nearest NMDOH dispensary for a physical exam and a determination of whether you are eligible for a card.

It is the patient’s responsibility to ensure that the application is complete, including all necessary medical documents and records. Incomplete applications will be delayed in processing, since the applying patient will receive a letter requesting missing or extra documentation.

Dispensaries

It is critical that you purchase medical cannabis from a New Mexico state-approved dispensary. Cannabis products must be tested by dispensaries.

Click here to view the map of licensed New Mexico medical cannabis dispensaries.

Rules for Buying Medical Cannabis

During a rolling three-month period  (or 90 days), patients in the program can purchase up to 425 units of cannabis and/or cannabis products. Patients can purchase dried flower, as well as a variety of additional items such as edibles, tinctures, and topicals.

1 unit represents 1 gram of dried flower. About 15 ounces of dried flower product equals 425 units. One unit of THC in edibles, tinctures, and topicals is 200 milligrams (0.2 grams).

Consumption

The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act prohibits the state’s Medical Cannabis Program from allowing patients or caregivers to take or carry medical marijuana in the following places:

  • In a school bus or other public transportation vehicle
  • On school property or grounds
  • On government land
  • Indian Reservations (including casinos and private homes)
  • In the place of employment of an eligible patient or main caregiver
  • A park, recreation facility, youth center, or other public location

Possession

Adults aged 21 and up may possess up to 2 ounces (56 grams) of flower, 16 grams of concentrate, and 800 mg of edibles to use and give away to other adults. They can have extra cannabis at home (the legislation doesn’t specify a maximum) if it’s kept in a closed container out of sight. 

Cultivation

Patients can grow up to 12 mature plants in their homes and manufacture edibles and solventless extracts with the availability of a Personal Production License (PPL). You will receive a separate PPL card if you applied for one and were approved.

A PPL card will expire on an annual basis, and the renewal must be submitted at least 30 days before the expiration date. Original copies of documentation, rather than photocopies, should be included with your medical cannabis card application. 

The New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department’s Cannabis Control Division (CCD) is in charge of regulating and licensing cannabis throughout the state. As the CCD establishes new laws, patient possession and cultivation limits are expected to change.

TMCC Admin Team

TMCC Admin Team

View all posts by TMCC Admin Team

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