Patient enrollment in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program reached 78,362 patients as of October 31, 2019, according to data compiled by Ultra Health® and released by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). October’s enrollment represents an increase of 25% over patient participation in October 2018.
A total of 130 patients who reside outside of New Mexico have been issued three-year patient cards that allow them to purchase medical cannabis while in the state. The out-of-state enrollment increased by 118 patients during the month of October alone.
Out-of-state patients are coming from several states including Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Illinois, and Michigan. Mexican nationals are also enrolling in the program, according to data released by NMDOH via public document inspection.
The increased out-of-state enrollment is the result of Santa Fe District Court Judge Bryan Biedschied’s ruling that ordered NMDOH to issue three-year patient cards to nonresidents. New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program is the first and only program to allow nonresidents to receive three-year cards and purchase medical cannabis while in the state.
Given New Mexico’s proximity to Texas, enrollment is expected to make substantial leaps as the public becomes aware that nonresidents are officially allowed to enter the program.
“Four of New Mexico’s five border states have their own medical cannabis programs. The exception, Texas, is home to over 26 million people, roughly two million of whom live within 2 hours of the New Mexico border. If one percent of Texans living in close proximity to the New Mexico border enroll in the MCP, the program will add 20,000 patients and demand will increase by 18.4 million grams annually,” states a public comment on plant count written by economist Kelly O’Donnell in May of 2019.
If “only five percent of two million Texas residents were to enroll in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program, enrollment in the Program would increase by 100,000, more than doubling the current enrollment of approximately 77,000 patients,” NMDOH Secretary Kathy Kunkel stated in an affidavit on Sept 12, 2019.
The increasing number of out-of-state patients enrolling in the Medical Cannabis Program is expected to impact cannabis policy changes across the U.S., as portability of access and participation is advocated to ensure continuity of care.
Out-of-state enrollment is also expected to strengthen the medical program by increasing medical cannabis sales in New Mexico and overall enrollment. The New Mexico program is expected to surpass 80,000 patients by the end of the year.
AP Photo/Steven Senne