New Mexico Judge Invalidates Hemp Regulations

A Santa Fe District Court Judge has ruled regulations surrounding hemp production in New Mexico to be invalid.

New Mexico cannabis company Ultra Health on Monday announced that it had won a favorable ruling on regulations that the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) declared in June 2020.

The regulations included the strictest testing requirements for hemp in the United States, arbitrary restrictions on hemp activities, and license suspension or revocation without notice.

Judge Bryan Biedscheid ruled that the regulations were invalid, maintaining that the NMDOH had not consulted with the Medical Cannabis Advisory Board, as the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act requires.

The NMDOH had also failed to provide substantial evidence to support the changes.

Along with several other medical cannabis industry operators, Ultra Health filed a petition under Rule 1-075 NMRA.

The rule requires the Court to analyze whether the NMDOH’s decision was supported by substantial or relevant evidence so that a reasonable person could accept it as adequate to support a conclusion.

“Judge Biedscheid’s ruling clearly states the department may not attempt to promulgate any rules it wishes without fully consulting stakeholders and providing substantial evidence for such changes,” says Ultra Health President Duke Rodriguez. “Organizationally, we support testing and reasonable regulation, including enhanced testing for pesticides and heavy metals. However, regulations must absolutely be promulgated rationally and consistently as compared to industry standards in other cannabis markets.”

Among the repealed regulations are license revocation or suspension without notice, barring of growing hemp on property designated for medical cannabis cultivation, onerous and duplicate product labeling, and testing requirements that set strict action levels for heavy metals, microbes, pesticides, and mycotoxins.

“Given the applicability of Rule 1-075(R)(2) NMRA, and the State Rules act’s requirement that an agency ensure technical information is contained within the rulemaking record, the Court finds that Department’s decision to adopt certain provisions of the repeal and replacement of 7·34·4 NMAC is not supported by substantial evidence,” states Biedscheid’s order.

Rodriguez says that regulations must be consciously promulgated to keep the price of cannabis medicine low and maintain availability for New Mexican patients who desperately need affordable access.