New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program revenues continue upward growth in third quarter
(Albuquerque) – The Medical Cannabis Program’s total patient revenues for the first nine months ending September 30, 2016 exceeded $35.5 million, representing a 66 percent increase over the same period in 2015. The thirty-five licensed New Mexico medical cannabis producers are on pace for a record setting year of $48.4 million.
Five providers, including Ultra Health®, had patient sales over $1 million in the third quarter alone, which is an industry first. The top 10 providers account for nearly three-quarters of total medical cannabis nine month revenues in New Mexico, while the 12 new providers licensed in December 2015 account for slightly over 2 percent of the total. Ultra Health® was the top percentage gainer and top producer for the third quarter with revenues up by 31 percent.
The maximum number of allowed plants are capped at 13,800 and actual plants in production continues to lag by nearly 30 percent. For the period September 30, 2015 to September 30, 2016, the number of active patients has increased by 76 percent, far outpacing allowed plants in production. The end result has been a substantial decrease in the amount of available medicine per patient. Statewide, there were 12 grams per patient in available inventory at September 30, 2015 and now nine grams per patient. Licensed producers remain capped at a maximum of 450 plants per producer.
“The program’s acceptance and popularity is undeniable,” Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health®, said. “Unfortunately, the declining available inventory combined with a limited plant count is compromising adequate supply and leading to shortages, dramatic price increases and a huge unserved patient population.”
As of the end of October, total enrolled patient numbers have surpassed 33,000. Personal Production Licenses (PPLs) as a percentage have reached their all-time low, now accounting for less than 20 percent of all cardholders. PPLs are allowed to grow up to 16 cannabis plants per patient.
“As less patients are applying for PPL licenses, it has become evident medical cannabis patients are choosing to purchase their medicine from the established providers,” Rodriguez said. “The state should remove plant count limits to allow licensed providers to produce an adequate and safe supply of medicine to meet an ever-increasing patient need. Driving patients to the black market is never a good outcome.”
RECENT CANNABIS DEVELOPMENTS:
The state's Medical Cannabis Advisory Board met on November 4 to discuss a series of petitions for recommendations to the program. Petitions were approved to recommend an increase in plant count to deal with an ongoing lack of adequate supply of medicine; allow for the certification of new patients via telemedicine; also approved were to add Alzheimer’s disease opiate addiction to the list of qualified conditions. The board tabled a recommendation to approve Autism until its next meeting and declined a recommendation for ADD/ADHD. The recommendations will be forwarded to the Secretary Designate for consideration.
In a special legislative session, the New Mexico State Senate passed a bill which would allow each provider to produce a number of plants equal to 15 percent of the patient population. The bill would have allowed up to 5,000 plants per producer based upon current enrollment. The bill was not heard in the House of Representatives.
As the economic “death spiral” in New Mexico continues to worsen, it is likely the legislature will visit the topic of cannabis legalization in the upcoming session in January. Cannabis legalization would bring millions of tax dollars to the state, create more than 11,000 jobs and produce $412.5 million in annual sales taken out of the criminal market in the first year alone.
A recent poll by the Albuquerque Journal, 61 percent of New Mexicans support cannabis legalization, which is slightly higher than the national average. Gallup poll published October 19, 2016 found that 60 percent of adults in the United States approve of the total legalization of cannabis.
Several cannabis ballot initiatives were also considered in the latest election. Voters in California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts approved to legalize cannabis for adult use. Arizona still has about 300,000 votes to tally before the measure officially passes or fails. If Arizona passes, nine states will now have legalized cannabis for adult use.
Florida, North Dakota, Montana and Arkansas all passed their measures for medical cannabis legalization, bringing the nationwide total of medical cannabis states to 28.