|While this appears to be great news for med-mar patients in New Mexico I find the last line of this story quite troubling, "Incoming governor Susana Martinez has said she'll seek to repeal the medical marijuana law."|
State OKs higher plant limits, stiffer producer fees for medical marijuana
The New Mexican
Posted: Friday, December 17, 2010 - 12/18/10
The state Department of Health announced several changes to its medical cannabis regulations Friday, one of which will create a permanent revenue stream to allow the program to pay for itself.
Another change adds to the supply of legally grown marijuana by increasing the number of plants licensed producers
can grow from 95 to 150.
The regulations take effect Dec. 30.
Under the new fees, producers who have been licensed for less than a year will pay $5,000 annually; those in business for more than a year will pay $10,000; and producers in business for three years or longer will be charged an annual fee of $20,000.
The application fee for nonprofits seeking a license to legally produce the plant for medical purposes will also increase from $100 to $1,000.
Deborah Busemeyer, health department spokeswoman, said the fees are based on what the program requires to become self-sufficient — about $700,000 per year — and also on estimates from producers that by the third year in business, a nonprofit should be grossing about $400,000 a year.
"We think it's a minimal cost to producers," Busemeyer said, adding that the $400,000 estimate was based on producers who were only able to grow 95 plants per year.
will also increase the number of licensed producers to 25.
Other changes to the regulations will allow nonprofit producers to get plants, seeds and useable cannabis from other producers — making it easier for them to start, and stay, in business.
Busemeyer said some of the new regulations are responses to feedback the department received during two public hearings.
She added that another new rule will allow the department to collect and test samples of cannabis.
Busemeyer said there are about 3,000 patients enrolled in the medical marijuana program, and that number continues to increase. About 1,400 of those people are licensed to grow their own medicine; still, Busemeyer and Health Secretary Alfredo Vigil both said the state continues to hear reports from patients and providers that production is not meeting demand.
Vigil said Friday he feels the new rules were needed to ensure a more comfortable balance between
supply and demand.
After the new rules are implemented, Vigil said he expects to see the growth of the program stabilize.
"Under the current legislation, I think we've accomplished what we set out to accomplish," Vigil said.
"But," he added, "the public can expect policy surrounding the use of marijuana to continue to evolve."
As state programs continue to grow, the federal government's policy that prohibits medical marijuana should be evaluated, he added.
"Given the number of states who now have programs, you would think that the federal policymakers will have to make adjustments. There are also issues around research. We badly need scientific research to understand what it is good for and what it is not. So, there is a lot of evolution going to be happening and that's what people should expect," Vigil said
To qualify for New Mexico's medical marijuana program, patients must have a physician certify that they
have one of 16 qualifying conditions. Vigil rejected a proposal to list depression as a condition, going against an advisory board's recommendation.
Incoming governor Susana Martinez has said she'll seek to repeal the medical marijuana law.
Contact Phaedra Haywood at 986-3068 or phaywood@....
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