The New Mexico Supreme Court has decided that cannabis purchases by medical marijuana patients should not be subject to gross receipts tax.
The Supreme Court issued its order just days before parties in a case were scheduled to present arguments regarding the tax issue.
The case stemmed from requests for tax refunds by producers in 2014 and again in 2018. The state Taxation and Revenue Department had denied those claims. In 2020, the New Mexico Court of Appeals ruled that medical marijuana should be treated like other prescriptions, which are not taxed.
Appellate Court Judge M. Monica Zamora had stated in the opinion at the time that New Mexico’s Compassionate Use Act was intended to make medical marijuana accessible to those with debilitating conditions.
“It is reasonably self-evident that the deduction from gross receipts for prescription drugs was similarly intended to make medical treatment more accessible, by lessening the expense to those who require it,” she wrote. “These statutes should be read harmoniously, to give effect to their commonality of purpose.”
The Taxation and Revenue Department said it was disappointed with the Supreme Court’s decision to quash its review of the case.
“We respect the decision and will move forward to issue refunds to the affected taxpayers once the court’s decision is mandated to become final,” agency spokesman Charlie Moore said.
It wasn’t immediately unclear how much the refunds might total. Some in the industry have estimated that the state has collected between $25 million and $30 million in gross receipts taxes from medical marijuana producers.
Ultra Health, one of the state’s largest producers, said Wednesday in a statement that it will receive a $4.7 million refund plus interest. Unlike some other producers, the company has not charged customers gross receipts tax and has been absorbing the cost throughout the litigation believing it would prevail in the case.
New Mexico established its medical marijuana program in 2007 and growth in recent years has been significant, with more than 130,340 patients enrolled as of January. The state also is preparing for recreational sales to begin April 1.