SANTA FE, N.M. — State-commissioned surveys of New Mexico medical cannabis producers and patients show that many dispensaries are encountering difficulties in meeting demand for marijuana and related products.

The Department of Health commissioned the surveys as it considers changing its limits on medical marijuana cultivation and per-patient consumption.

In results obtained Tuesday, 55% of producers said they have been unable to keep pace with patient demand for marijuana and related products.

Patient enrollment is surging in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program for health ailments such as cancer, chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder, with a 39% jump in participation between March 2018 and March 2019. Active patients now number more than 72,000.

Of the patients surveyed, about 1 in 4 said they were unable to purchase cannabis within the past 90 days because it was out of stock. Shortages were more pronounced in eastern New Mexico, with about 4 in 10 patients citing shortages.

The surveys of all 34 licensed producers and more than 600 patients also delved into business ambitions, product preferences among patients, and overall satisfaction with New Mexico’s 12-year-old medical cannabis program.

Nearly all producers intend to expand in the future, while 6 in 10 patients say they purchase edibles — mainly chocolates, bars and gummy candies. The vast majority of patients were satisfied with the state program, while producers were more divided in their opinions.

The Health Department is crafting a new rule to determine limits on medical marijuana production after a lawsuit knocked down the previous 450-plant cap per producer.

A state district court judge ruled in November that the production limit had interfered with the beneficial use of marijuana by patients, siding with seller Ultra Health and the mother of a child who is reliant on cannabis oil to treat a rare form of epilepsy.

Ultra Health, New Mexico’s largest seller, says medical cannabis sales are growing at a much slower rate than enrollment, which is up by 16% between March 2018 and March 2019.

The sales figures could not be independently confirmed.

The company says consumers appear to be turning to the illicit market or supplies from Colorado’s recreational market. Health Department spokesman David Morgan declined to comment on the assertion.

Most producers linked the problems in meeting demand to the state’s plant-count limit.

Ultra Health says the program is overly restrictive in several aspects and is urging the state to increase or eliminate its production cap, as well as raise per-patient purchasing limits and allow sales discounts by volume.

The Health Department has indicated it could address the current patient purchase limits — restricted to the equivalent of 230 grams (8 ounces) each 90 days — in its new proposed rule.

“We don’t believe a higher plant count is going to solve all of the program’s issues,” said Marissa Novel, a spokeswoman for the company in its Scottsdale, Arizona, headquarters.

The patient survey indicated about half of respondents would buy more medical cannabis if they could.

Costs also are a concern among marijuana patients, who cited lower prices at recreational marijuana dispensaries in neighboring Colorado.


This story has been corrected to show the last name of the Health Department spokesman is Morgan, not Moran.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) comment


Of all the issues that American lawmakers need to address, and have historically erred in addressing so as to cause the further need for reassessment, the marijuana issue is a literal "no brainer." Simply legalize the substance that happens to grow naturally in most places on the Earth. It is true that money and politics would be taken out of one continuous issue, but numerous government created problems would heal automatically. Probably an amazing number of problems would heal themselves. I will site as the problem, the case of John Boehner; he has changes his perception 100% and is no longer part of the problem. Just imagine the progress if we could dump Mitch McConnell, Lindsay Graham, etc. Make America Great and get rid of continuously failing and flailing leadership.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.