The number of patients enrolled in the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program grew 72 percent in the last two years.

The N.M. Department of Health’s (DOH) latest report found that the state is home to 124,463 active cannabis patients, most of whom joined the program in the last two years. “There have been a lot of questions that we’ve heard about how patient enrollment would actually decrease with the advent of adult-use cannabis,” program Director Dr. Dominick Zurlo told legislators. “However, what we have seen so far is that patient enrollment has continued to steadily increase over the past two years.”

According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, the DOH has processed nearly 15,000 applications for medical marijuana patients since the Cannabis Regulation Act went into effect in June, legalizing cannabis for adults over 21.

The law allows medical cannabis patients to purchase 8 ounces of cannabis or cannabis products over a rolling 90-day period without paying the same taxes that recreational consumers will have to pay once the adult-use market opens.

Texas Bans Delta-8 THC

The discussion over designer drug Delta-8 THC is heating up now that the state of Texas has outright banned the substance, making it the 18th state to do so.

Earlier this month the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) published a notice on its website that Delta-8 THC was illegal because all forms of THC are controlled substances. According to the 2018 Farm Bill, hemp is legal and distinguished from cannabis by its concentration level of Delta-9 THC. The law never mentions Delta-8 THC, so the lesser known psychoactive compound resides in a gray area of the law as long as it is produced from legal hemp.

But the Texas health department’s notice interprets the law differently. It wrote that Delta-8 THC “in any concentration” is illegal. Texas CBD retailers requested a temporary restraining order to block the department, but a state district judge denied the request.

Since Delta 8-THC can be found in trace amounts in all hemp plants, questions over how the notice will affect hemp cultivation in the state remain unanswered.

Federal Research Bill Introduced

Bipartisan federal lawmakers recently introduced a law that would allow researchers to access cannabis sold at legal dispensaries for studies about the drug.

Cannabis advocate Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) surprisingly teamed up with prohibitionist Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) to introduce the Medical Marijuana Research Act last month. If approved the bill would give regulators a deadline to respond to applications for cannabis research. It would also allow researchers involved in active studies to alter their protocols without seeking approval from the federal government.

The bill would additionally require that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) submit a report to Congress about the results of federal studies over the next five years with recommendations on rescheduling marijuana.

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