New Mexico Judge Rules That Nonresidents May Participate In State Medical Cannabis Program

Santa Fe District Court Judge Bryan Biescheid affirmed a Permanent Writ of Mandamus court order on Tuesday, September 24, eliminating residency as a requirement to participate in New Mexico’s medical cannabis program.

Due to a possible reconsideration or stay of the issue, the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) has previously refused to issue medical cannabis cards to nonresidents, despite the judge’s orders telling them to do so.

Judge Biescheid denied both NMDOH’s motion for reconsideration and its request to stay the court’s order.

“[The Permanent Writ of Mandamus] is applicable to everyone,” said Judge Biescheid in the courtroom. “I think the law is clear. I look to the language of that statute first and foremost to determine legislative intent.”

According to the Mandamus, anyone who meets the qualifications established by the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act may obtain a three-year patient registry card allowing them to purchase medical cannabis in New Mexico.

The Mandamus was originally filed by three petitioners, two of which were from Texas and the other from Arizona.

The three filed for medical cannabis patient status after the Act went into effect on June 14, 2019.

“NMDOH is required by law to enroll non-residents who meet the statutory requirements,” said Ultra Health President and CEO Duke Rodriguez in a statement. “The NMDOH can no longer ignore the Court’s Permanent Writ of Mandamus and there is no support in law for continued disregard of the Judge’s clear and unambiguous order. The priority now is ensuring an adequate supply of medical cannabis for all qualified patients.”

In the revised version of the Act, a qualified patient is defined as a person instead of a New Mexico resident.

NMDOH Secretary Kathy Kunkel stated earlier this month that, if five percent of two million Texas residents apply for the New Mexico medical cannabis program, enrollment would increase by 100,000, which would more than double the current 77,000 patients.

There are currently 29 million residents in Texas, two million of which live near the New Mexico border.