Medical cannabis producers warn of coming shortage

Last week the Cannabis Control Division announced it is accepting producer license applications through its online system after confirming that it had finalized its rules.

While the law that legalized cannabis for adults went into effect in June, the state has yet to finish setting the rules for the retail market. The first step was to finalize the rules for producers, so they could start growing the product that will be sold when stores open their doors by April 2022.

The CCD announced it had completed that step last week and started accepting applications a day later. The division beat the Sep. 1 deadline set by law by a full week. This could be a good sign that the division will meet future deadlines as well.

“The Cannabis Control Division is open for business,” said CCD representative Heather Brewer. “Following an open and transparent process, producer rules are finalized and in effect, and the CCD has launched a streamlined online application process for cannabis producers. The Cannabis Control Division is committed to working with businesses and entrepreneurs to ensure the success of this exciting new industry.”

The implementation of an online system is particularly encouraging, as it addresses concerns that producers have voiced over lengthy paper applications that were required for medical cannabis production applications. The new system is online and allows for the electronic delivery of documents. The state says it will make the process faster and more efficient.

“The Cannabis Control Division is committed to making the licensing process as easy as possible while upholding the law and ensuring the integrity of New Mexico’s cannabis industry,” said Regulation and Licensing Department Superintendent Linda M. Trujillo in a press release.

The CCD has 90 days to approve or deny an application after its received. It is only accepting applications for cannabis producers and producer microbusinesses at the moment. It says the rules for manufacturing, retail and supply chains will all be finalized by Jan. 1. The online portal will be expanded to include each sector as its rules are set.

Integrated marijuana businesses—those that are involved in more than one aspect of the industry—are required to apply for separate licenses for each individual aspect of their business as they become available. However, any fees spent toward individual licenses will count toward their total fee as though it were paid at one time.

The newly enacted production rules were published online last week. According to the regulations, the CCD will be attempting to promote participation from representatives of communities “that have disproportionately been harmed by rates of arrest through the enforcement of cannabis prohibitions and encourage racial, ethnic, gender, geographic diversity and New Mexico residency among license applicants.” The division has set a goal of seeing at least 50 percent of applicants from these communities.

The new regulations also cover medical cannabis supply security, the recall of tainted products, transportation, security requirements and quality testing.

Medical Pot Limits Increased

A New Mexico judge has ruled that the purchase limits placed on medical cannabis patients by the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act are no longer valid in light of the Cannabis Regulation Act taking effect.

In response to a petition from medical cannabis patient Jason Barker, State District Judge Benjamin Chavez recently ordered the Department of Health and the Regulation and Licensing Department to stop enforcing former purchase limits and use the new law’s limits instead.

Under the medical cannabis law, patients were limited to purchasing eight ounces of cannabis in a rolling 90-day period. The new law for adult-use recreational cannabis allows adults over 21 to purchase and transport up to two ounces of dried cannabis at a time with no limit for cannabis stored at home. Barker’s petition argued that the medical cannabis law contradicted the newly enacted adult-use law and enforcing the previous limits should be illegal.

The judge agreed and issued a writ ordering state authorities to stop enforcing the medical cannabis law’s limits, but will allow the agencies to discuss the matter in court if they object.

Feds Study Hemp Market

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is undertaking a major survey of the nation’s hemp industry in an effort to better understand methods and practices of farmers.

The 2021 Hemp Acreage and Production Survey includes questions about the acreage, yield, production, price and value of hemp. It also covers secondary uses for the plant and the preparation of CBD extracts, smokable hemp and food products.

“This inaugural survey will set the benchmark for hemp acreage and production to assist regulatory agencies, producers, state governments, processors and other key industry entities,” said the USDA. “The survey data will also assist the USDA Farm Service Agency, USDA Economic Research Service and USDA Risk Management Agency with their program support responsibilities related to domestic hemp production.”

The USDA’s final rule for hemp production was published at the beginning of the year and went into effect in March. The rule covered regulations on research, tribal regulatory authority, testing windows, sampling, disposal of hemp with more THC than limits allow and the penalties for violating the rules.

“With the publication of this final rule, USDA brings to a close a full and transparent rulemaking process that started with a hemp listening session in March 2019,” said USDA Marketing and Regulatory Programs Deputy Undersecretary Mae Wu. But the current survey implies that agency is willing to revise the rule if needed.

Ultra Health Takes On Expansion Projects

Medical cannabis producer Ultra Health recently announced it plans to open the nation’s largest marijuana production and manufacturing facility in southern New Mexico.

According to KRQE the industry giant purchased a 225,000-square foot commercial bakery facility and 95 acres of land in Alamogordo to convert into a major cannabis production site. The company says it wants to use the space to grow pot and hopefully conduct research.

Last month Ultra Health announced that it had purchased a 50,000-square foot building an hour south of Albuquerque for distribution. The company said it had also purchased 150 acres of additional farmland and more than 750 acres of water feet in Tularosa. It says it plans to have 50 dispensaries in operation by next year.