New Mexico’s number one cannabis company initiates lawsuit against health department regarding newly-imposed rules

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

The largest medical cannabis supplier in New Mexico is engaging in a battle with the state regarding newly-imposed regulations. Ultra Health a vertically-integrated company that operates 20 dispensaries statewide and will launch another 10 before the year is up has described the state’s regulations as “arbitrary and capricious.” 

“[The state] simply copied and pasted regulations from other states without considering how those out of state regulations would or could perform in the real world in New Mexico,” reads an excerpt from the lawsuit filed against the state’s Department of Health.

The suit filed on July 10 after the state released its new regulations June 23 urges a district judge to rescind the rules and rewrite language to ensure the continuous smooth operation of New Mexico’s medical cannabis market.

What rules has the state health department introduced for New Mexico’s medical cannabis industry?

A number of fresh rules pertaining to New Mexico’s medical cannabis industry have left participants feeling slightly perplexed. Those rules were highlighted in Bernalillo- based Ultra Health’s lawsuit against the state DOH, which bit back at the recently-added criteria regarding license suspension and revocations.

Included in the updated regulations are a strict set of labeling requirements that will make it harder for companies to get their products distributed across the growing consumer demographic. Additionally, manufacturers/suppliers have been informed that they need to test their products for heavy metals, microbials and pesticides; they must carry out the necessary analysis of their products prior to selling them. 

Updated regulations for hemp cultivation and extracts are also being introduced by New Mexico DOH.

Ultra Health CEO experienced victory with previous health department lawsuits 

President and CEO of Ultra Health, Duke Rodriguez, is no stranger to fighting for medical cannabis in New Mexico. Previously, he has succeeded in fighting numerous lawsuits targeted at the state’s health department. For example, a lawsuit regarding the type of products that could be publicly displayed at a 2017 State Fair booth was resolved last summer for a sum of $69,600; paid by hosts of the New Mexico State Fair — Expo New Mexico. 

Disputes initially surfaced when state fair organizers prevented Ultra Health from displaying cannabis, paraphernalia or cultivation-related products at it’s 2017 event. The settlement was agreed to after Expo New Medical officials abandoned a case that was unresolved in the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals. 

A separate petition was filed on Tuesday, July 22 by former PRC commissioner Jason Marks. The Democrat argued on behalf of his clients at one of the state’s two testing laboratories – Scepter Labs – after learning of these rules. He also represented petitioners from Vitality Extracts.