Patient enrollments are now comparable yet substantial differences in plant count and patient access remain

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M., March 23, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- For the first time since New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program was enacted, patient enrollment in the state has outpaced neighboring Colorado’s patient participation. Ultra Health, New Mexico’s #1 Cannabis Company also experienced its highest sales month on record in February, when New Mexico enrollment overtook Colorado’s enrollment.

Patient enrollment in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program officially reached 82,147 patients, according to recent data released by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH). Enrollment in Colorado’s medical cannabis program reached 81,893 as of February 29, 2020.

Since legalization of the adult-use of cannabis in Colorado in 2014, the Colorado medical cannabis program has declined from a high of nearly 115,000 cardholders to less than 82,000 currently. During the same period in New Mexico the enrollment has increased 667% from 10,708 to over 82,000 and now surpassing Colorado. While the enrollments are comparable, there remain significant programmatic differences that affect the performance of the two state’s medical cannabis programs.

State - Medical Only ActivityColoradoNew Mexico
Enrolled Patients (Feb. 2020)81,89382,177
Sales (2019)$338.5M$129.3M
Pounds of cannabis sold (2019)210,730*21,939
Plants in Production (2019)286,29926,098
Plants per Patient 3.50.3
Purchase Limits (90 days)180 oz8 oz
Average Price Per Gram$3.28$10.26
Sales Tax on Medical Cannabis?NOYES

*Annualized figure from Colorado Department of Revenue 6-month data.

New Mexico patients continue to pay higher prices for the medicine they need because supply is hampered by regulation, and they are unable to obtain medicine in the quantities their conditions require. New Mexico continues to mandate the lowest patient-purchase limits in the country despite written confirmation from NMDOH that the department would revisit purchase limits during the summer 2019 rulemaking process.

These inequalities in production and patient access have resulted in lower-than-normal patient sales in New Mexico’s regulated market. In 2019, New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program reached $129 million in patient sales while Colorado’s program generated $338 million – nearly three times New Mexico’s sales with similar patient enrollment – during the same period.

New Mexico’s program also had far fewer plants in production due to arbitrary overregulation. In 2019, cannabis producers in New Mexico had a total of only 26,098 plants in production, largely in part due to the restriction of a maximum of 1,750 plants per producer. Meanwhile in Colorado, more than 286,000 plants were cultivated state wide for medical cannabis patient needs with an enrollment similar to New Mexico.

“It is unrealistic to believe the average patient in New Mexico requires far less medicine than the average patient in Colorado, the patient acuity should be the same,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO, and President of Ultra Health®. “Colorado had the insight to design a robust medical cannabis program that adequately provides for patient needs, while New Mexico’s approach has historically been overly restrictive, at best. What New Mexico and its 82,000 patients need is a compassionate framework that allows them to legally purchase the medicine they need rather than pushing them to the illicit market, and now more than ever.”

New Mexican patients have experienced shortages of medical cannabis, despite the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act mandating an uninterrupted three month supply of medical cannabis for patients. The most recent NMDOH-commissioned patient survey conducted by Research & Polling Inc. has indicated a great need for more medicine statewide and higher purchase limits.

In the survey, 55% of providers stated they are unable to keep pace with demand for medical cannabis. In addition, one in four patients said they were unable to purchase their medicine within the last 90 days because it was out of stock.

Furthermore, 48% of patients surveyed said they would purchase more medicine if they were allowed, and 1 in 4 patients reported they have developed a tolerance to their medicine that has required increased consumption over time.

Ultra Health is New Mexico’s #1 Cannabis Company and the largest vertically integrated medical cannabis provider in the United States. The provider currently operates 20 dispensary locations statewide, with another 10 stores slated to open by the second quarter of 2020. Ultra Health provides unparalleled medical cannabis care by producing accurately dosed, smokeless cannabis products such as sublingual tablets, oils, pastilles, suppositories and more through its partnership with Israeli pharmaceutical group Panaxia. Ultra Health has been at the forefront of patient-rights issues and continues to fight for adequate supply and rural access in the New Mexico medical cannabis market.

Contact: Marissa Novel