New reciprocity legislation enables out-of-staters to buy medical cannabis in New Mexico without patient card

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Sweeping changes have been introduced for New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program. The newly-implemented reciprocity rules will make it possible for out-of-staters to buy and possess medical cannabis from the state’s licensed dispensaries. Non-residents have been informed of the changes following an announcement released by Ultra Health — acknowledged as the number one cannabis company in New Mexico.

Since July 1, reciprocal participants who visit the state have been legally allowed to purchase/possess a maximum of 230 units or eight ounces of medical cannabis within a 90-day window. Best of all, no additional fee will be required. In order to obtain their medicine, patients residing outside of the state must provide proof that they are authorized under another state’s medical cannabis program.

No other cannabis-friendly state has introduced reciprocity legislation quite as generous as New Mexico’s. Based on the state’s law, qualified medical cannabis patients from any New Mexico Indian nation, Pueblo or tribe can purchase medicinal-grade cannabis during their stay in the state.  In addition to this, authorized patients visiting from any U.S. territory, commonwealth or the District of Columbia will be acknowledged under New Mexico’s reciprocity legislation.

New Mexico’s medical cannabis program stands out for acknowledging tribal sovereignty

It was during the 2019 Legislative Session that lawmakers amended the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act; a law that saw the establishment of New Mexico’s medical cannabis program back in 2007. Amendments made to the Act meant that reciprocity legislation came into effect. 

This was a milestone moment for the state’s medical cannabis program, because it marked the first time that any amendment had been made to the law since its inception; indicating progress in regards to equitable healthcare rights for qualified medical cannabis patients.

“It is exciting to see New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program begin to embrace continuity of care. Access to healthcare, especially medical cannabis, should not be limited to arbitrary requirements like where a person lives or whether the state believes their condition should qualify,”  said the CEO and President of Ultra Health®, Duke Rodriguez, adding that, “the ongoing challenge now will be to provide for the medical cannabis needs of 100,000 New Mexicans and the added reciprocal visitors from out-of-state amid historic medical cannabis supply shortages and COVID-19.”

Even if a patient is qualified to receive medical cannabis for a specific condition that is not currently listed on New Mexico’s eligibility criteria, they will be still able to visit a state-licensed dispensary and acquire their medicine. The new rules stipulate that visiting patients do not need to present a medical cannabis patient card, so long as he or she has received doctor authorization; out-of-staters are exempt from abiding by rules pertaining to patient card applications and renewals. 

Enrollment for New Mexico’s medical cannabis program could exceed 100,000 by end of year

By May 30, 2020, a total of 92,042 patients had registered for New Mexico’s medical cannabis program. These patient figures demonstrate a 26 percent increase from May of last year — impressive considering the fact that the state was dealing with supply restraints at this time; caused in large part by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

Currently, patients who are qualified to receive medical cannabis in New Mexico can choose from a wide range of products – including oils, pastilles, suppositories and tablets – sold through vertically-integrated provider Ultra Health. The company, which is the largest in the United States, operates 20 dispensary locations across the state and is expected to launch an additional 10 stores by the third quarter (Q3) of 2020. 

In summary, out-of-staters who are authorized to receive medical cannabis elsewhere can enjoy the convenience of legally purchasing plant-based medicines when spending time in New Mexico. Furthermore, thanks to the recently enacted reciprocity legislation, non-residents can now benefit from broader multi-state eligibility.