The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act, 2 enacted in 2007, permits the use of medical cannabis by New Mexico residents with certain severe medical conditions and establishes the broad regulatory framework for the state’s Medical Cannabis Program (MCP). To qualify for the program, a patient must have their diagnosis and need for medical cannabis certified in writing by a health practitioner licensed to prescribe and administer controlled substances in New Mexico and they must register with the state MCP.
The Act also legalizes the production, possession, distribution and dispensing of cannabis for use under the provisions of the Act, but leaves other key elements of the program, including the amount of cannabis patients are allowed to have on hand, licensure of producers, and production facilities, and the development of the distribution system, to rulemaking by the New Mexico Department of Health (DOH).
The number of patients enrolled in the program jumped 41 percent to more than 67,500 patients over the same period. Nearly half the patients in New Mexico use medical cannabis products to treat post-traumatic stress disorder, likely because it was the first state in the nation to list PTSD as a qualifying condition. New Mexico is the only state where chronic/severe pain is not the most oft-cited condition treated.
There are 35 businesses are licensed to grow and sell medical cannabis in New Mexico, and they were growing 15,570 plants, up from 13,444 the previous year. Currently, there are 89 dispensaries are operating in the state, up from 67 in 2017. Most companies have one or two dispensaries, though the largest business in the state – Ultra Health – has nine locations.
Ultra-Health business had the largest market share of all 35 licensed producers in New Mexico with a share of about 12 percent. The second largest was R. Greenleaf with a 10 percent market share. Overall, the top five producers accounted for more that 40 percent of market share.
Patients purchased approximately 7 million units (1 g of dried cannabis or 200 mg of THC for infused products) of cannabis in 2018. Based on the average price per gram in New Mexico – which hovered around $10.16 throughout the year – the state sold an estimated $70 million worth of cannabis products in 2018.
The regulated medical cannabis market is likely only about 16 percent of the total cannabis market in New Mexico. It is estimated that the size of the cannabis black market is about $440 million.