Recently the New Mexico Tourism Department decided to launch its New Mexico True Certified program, highlighting products that are “uniquely New Mexican.” While this is a great program, it is limiting its success by denying access to one of the state’s most promising products.
It’s green. And no, it’s not chile.
The program requires all plant and nonmeat agricultural products to be 100 percent produced in the state with traceable documentation to where it was grown. Ultra Health products fit this requirement, as its high quality, medical grade cannabis and other products infused with medical cannabis are grown and produced at its cultivation center in Bernalillo.
Ultra Health was denied from the program because cannabis is Schedule 1 under Federal Law, despite the total statewide legality of the Medical Cannabis Program and the fact that the New Mexico True Certified program receives no federal funding. After appealing the New Mexico Department of Tourism’s decision and providing additional information as per a member of the department’s request, Ultra Health’s application was denied once again.
Medical cannabis should have an equal right to access the New Mexico True Certification program just as other authentically New Mexican products do. After all, the medical cannabis grown in the state is grown under specific regulations that are unique to New Mexico.
Perhaps the most important aspect of linking Ultra Health’s medical grade cannabis to the New Mexico brand is to encourage patients to buy their medicine from their home state.
Medical cannabis patients in New Mexico have the option of buying medicine in Nevada through a program of reciprocity, and other states such as Hawaii will soon follow suit. Even nonpatients can travel to the adult use state of Colorado to purchase their medicine. Linking Ultra Health’s medical grade cannabis products with the New Mexico brand would remind medical cannabis patients why it is important to reinvest in the products that generate millions of dollars in state funding every year.
Cannabis sales are estimated to reach $45 million by the end of the year, surpassing New Mexico’s most famous product: chile. While chile production was estimated to be valued at more than $41 million in 2015, the increasingly profitable cannabis industry poses one question: What is New Mexico’s true “green” and who is it attracting?
Many people are drawn to the state’s Medical Cannabis Program, and decide to relocate from out of state for just that reason. And as more states are adopting reciprocity, or the ability for medical cannabis patients from out of state to purchase medicine in states with medical cannabis programs, it seems only obvious that visitors from out of state will also start participating in the program in the near future.
Not to mention, medical cannabis companies greatly help the state financially. Ultra Health alone pays $90,000 in annual licensing fees and remits gross receipts tax from its sales, which both go into New Mexico’s general fund. It is estimated that cannabis companies contribute $3 million in gross receipt taxes alone, which are also funnelled into the general fund.
Considering the state’s current lack of tax revenue and medical cannabis producers contributions to the state’s general fund, one would assume the New Mexico True Certification program would understand how the Medical Cannabis Program and its producers are ultimately helping fund the New Mexico Department of Tourism.
Hopefully the New Mexico True Certification program will rethink its decision in discriminating against Ultra Health’s products and ultimately the “green” that will be attracting people to New Mexico for years to come.