New Mexico is running out of pot. According to a comprehensive survey of randomly selected New Mexico medical marijuana users, the supply of legally grown cannabis is failing to meet patient demand.
The Department of Health survey found that the 9,760 medical pot patients in New Mexico consume an average of 9.6 grams every week – meaning that each year, patients require 11,267 pounds of pot statewide. However, medical pot providers (licensed nonprofit producers and patients who legally grow their own medicine) produce only 2,246 pounds of pot annually. So only about 20 percent of the medicine required by patients is being cultivated legally.
Health Department spokesman Kenny Vigil said that the department is “weighing its options about whether to increase [medicinal cannabis] production.” The department is also contemplating whether to allow more cannabis cultivators or to increase the number of plants current providers can grow.
Currently there are just 23 licensed medical marijuana providers in the entire state. Each can have a total of 150 plants at any time.
While patients complain that the licensed producer in their region is often sold out of cannabis, the Department of Health has not authorized any new growers in four years – despite a backlog of pending applications from potential providers. Clearly, many legal pot users have been forced to cross over to the unregulated black market to obtain medicine.
There are currently 9,760 medical pot patients in New Mexico. The survey, released by the state Department of Health, contacted 2,755 patients and ultimately used data from 698 of them.
One would-be provider, Mark Springer, filed a lawsuit against the Health Dept late last month to ensure that an adequate supply of medicinal cannabis is made available to patients. Springer claims he has been trying to become a licensed pot producer in New Mexico since 2009.