One of the state’s top cannabis producers says the New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program has lost over a third of its patients since the state started adult-use sales.
According to a news release from Ultra Health, active patient enrollment in the medical marijuana program has dropped by 37 percent since it peaked in May 2022. There are now around 85,028 patients enrolled in the program, compared to 135,388 last year.
Ultra Health CEO Duke Rodriguez is calling for full medical coverage of state medical cannabis patients with behavioral health disorders, citing a 2022 law that eliminates cost-sharing and out-of-pocket costs for behavioral health services and medication.
The New Mexico Department of Health did not respond to a request for comment at the time of publication, but a department representative recently said in a statement that officials expected to lose some patients when adult-use sales kicked in.
Study: Potheads More Empathetic
A new study out of Mexico found that cannabis users are more empathetic and better at spotting others’ emotions compared to non-users.
The study, published last week in the Journal of Neuroscience Research, used psychometric personality tests on 85 regular cannabis users and 51 non-users and brain imaging tests on 46 users and 34 nonusers to examine levels of empathy—the ability to recognize and understand the emotions of others.
Researchers at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México administered the Cognitive and Affective Empathy Test to the larger group of participants and conducted MRI exams for the smaller group.
The empathy test is made up of 33 items, scored on a five-option scale, where one is “strongly disagree” and five is “strongly agree.” According to the results, weed users were found to “have a greater understanding of the emotions of others.”
Images from the MRI group showed that cannabis users had stronger connectivity between the anterior cingulate, a region related to empathy, and brain regions related to sensing others’ emotional states.
Scientists Discover New Pot Compounds
Cannabis scientists say they’ve discovered a new type of marijuana compound that may be partially responsible for weed’s scent.
Cannabis experts have long held that cannabis terpenes were the culprit behind the plant’s distinctive odor. Terpenes are compounds that appear in all plants and fruit, and produce many of the aromas found in essential oils.
However, the new study, published last month in the journal ACS Omega, found that the role played by terpenes in marijuana odor has been “overemphasized.”
The researchers noted that different cannabis samples with the same terpene profile can have very different scent profiles. They attribute these differences to newly discovered compounds called “flavorants.”
According to a news release, the company that funded the study, Abtrax Tech, believes flavorants will “play a crucial role in validating cannabis’ authenticity and accurately classifying cannabis varieties.”