Press Release  | 12/17/2010

NM Department of Health to License Eight More Medical Marijuana Producers, Increase Limits on Plants

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Advocates Applaud Effort to Maintain Adequate Supply for Thousands of Seriously Ill Patients

Today, New Mexico Secretary of Health Alfredo Vigil, MD, announced that the Health Department will authorize eight more licenses for medical marijuana producers in New Mexico. This raises the total number of licensed suppliers to 25 for the state's 3,015 active registered medical marijuana patients. Additionally, Secretary Vigil announced that the limit on the number of plants each producer can grow will increase from 95 to 150 plants. Patients have advocated for these changes so that producers are able to maintain enough inventory to meet demand and so that producers can afford new licensing fees that were also included as part of a number of changes to the medical marijuana regulations.

"This is a victory for the most seriously ill and vulnerable New Mexicans," said Sheila Lewis, acting State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance of New Mexico. "From the beginning of the medical marijuana program in 2007, there have been problems ensuring an adequate supply of medicine for patients. The increased number of producers will help to solve that problem. The Department needs to charge fees to pay for the costs of administering the program, but the fees are only economically feasible for the producers if they are allowed higher plant limits. We are thrilled that the Department has been responsive to the concerns of patients by making these necessary changes."

New Mexico was the first state to set up a state-licensed medical marijuana distribution system, via a bipartisan vote of the legislature in 2007. The program is a model for the rest of the country.

"States around the country that are putting into place licensing and distribution systems for medical marijuana look to New Mexico as a place that has done many things right, "said Jill Harris, Managing Director of Public Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance. "One thing the New Mexico program has been known for is a commitment to meeting the needs of patients, first and foremost. The program has always had a problem with maintaining an adequate supply for patients, though, and today's announcement by the Secretary of Health shows that New Mexico is once again trying to do right by the patients."

Sheila Lewis at 505-470-3535 (c) or Jill Harris at 212-613-8050 (o)

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