Medical marijuana is gaining strength across the nation, but nowhere is it hotter than in New Mexico.
“We are probably the single fastest growing industry in New Mexico,” Duke Rodriguez, president and CEO of Ultra Health LLC, the state’s No. 1 cannabis distributor, told the Albuquerque Journal. “This is the one industry that has been a juggernaut of growth.”
According to New Mexico’s largest newspaper:
Customers, sales revenue and dispensaries have exploded the past year with a total of more than 40,000 people now signed up to purchase medical marijuana.
Since Jan. 1, some 8,000 New Mexicans obtained a state-issued license that allows them to legally buy pot, pushing patient enrollment to 40,432 in April. With the recent growth spurt, enrollment has increased by 84 percent since March 2016.
New Mexico now has 56 medical marijuana dispensaries, with 2o of those coming aboard in this year alone. According to data from the state’s Department of Health, first-quarter sales in 2017 hit $19 million, an increase of 91 percent compared to last year.
Not everyone is celebrating the news, however. State Rep. Bill Rehm believes the state’s system is being abused by those who are not truly patients.
“I think there are a bunch of people who are obtaining marijuana cards, not for a true medical reason, but for justification for them to smoke marijuana legally,” Rehm told the Journal.
New Mexico requires patients to provide documentation from a physician that supports the use of marijuana. The state recognizes 20 qualifying conditions for use, including chronic pain, PTSD and hospice care.
Marijuana legalization is popular in New Mexico. A poll conducted last year revealed that 61 percent of likely voters in the state supported legalization of marijuana. But the legislature and Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, have fought measures to regulate the herb.