November brings high hopes for cannabis legalization

November is shaping up to be a very exciting time for cannabis advocates. Hundreds of millions of Americans will be casting their vote for President November 8, while over 25 percent of the country will be voting on social and medical cannabis propositions.

The most exciting part? Legalization is leading in nearly every state where it is on the ballot. Even more exciting? If all states with legalization on the ballot approve, a quarter of the United States will be free from cannabis prohibition and 62 percent will live in states with medical programs.

Here’s where each state stands on legalization this upcoming election.


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New Mexico Medical Cannabis Sales Up 56 Percent, Patients Up 74 Percent

Producer revenues increase, while total sales significantly lag behind patient growth

(Albuquerque) – Of the 23 Licensed Non-Profit Producers (LNPPs) who were operating throughout fiscal year 2016, over two-thirds experienced double-digit revenue growth.  Four producers experienced negative growth, and three others were essentially flat during the period.

Total industry revenues from fiscal year 2015 to 2016 increased by $14.1 million, resulting in a $39 million total and a growth of 56 percent. Sales lagged behind patient growth, as patient numbers increased from 15,265 to 26,568, by 74 percent, for the same period.

“The industry is doing as much as it can to keep providing patients with the medicine they need,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health®. “But, it has become clear as sales significantly lag behind patient growth, there is not an adequate supply of medicine. Patients may be forced to go outside the licensed program and look to the black market for their needs.”

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New Mexico Medical Cannabis Program Grows To 31,000 Patients

Senate passed bill to increase plant count, special session ended with no House vote

(Albuquerque) – Patients in New Mexico’s Medical Cannabis Program reached 30,877 at the end of the third calendar quarter, a 4,309 increase from June 30, 2016. This increase is twice the amount of patients that were added to the program in the same quarter in 2015. Additionally, the program has seen a 76 percent patient growth increase over the past year.

Bernalillo and Santa Fe remain the two largest counties by patient population with 11,396 and 4,070 enrolled patients, respectively. Every county, excluding Harding and Union counties, experienced a double-digit increase in patients in the third calendar quarter. Growth continues to accelerate particularly in the southern and southeastern parts of New Mexico including Dona Ana, Lea, Chaves, Grant and Eddy counties. Nearly 3,200 patients are living in rural counties without a full time dispensary.

“The gap between the growing number of patients and the amount of available medical grade cannabis is widening,” said Duke Rodriguez, CEO and President of Ultra Health®.

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Indigenous Endeavors In The Cannabis Market: Ultra Health’s Vision

By Megan Rubio / DOPE Magazine

Published on September 21, 2016

Native American tribes are often recognized for their success within the casino business and the tobacco industry. Over the past decade, as cannabis has become more accepted as a medical treatment, the industry has grown exponentially. In some places, where legal recreational cannabis use exists, there have been fears of the market flooding with all of the products being produced. The involvement of Native American tribes in the cannabis industry could very well allow legal cannabis to reach untapped markets and speed up the legalization movement.

One company, Ultra Health, is currently working with the Paiute Tribe in Las Vegas on two dispensaries and a cultivation facility. Ultra Health is headquartered in Arizona, providing business solutions in New Mexico and Nevada as well. One of the main goals of Ultra Health is to expand the influence of Native American tribes on the cannabis market.

Duke Rodriguez, the CEO of Ultra Health, explains that their company is looking to create business solutions and opportunities within the cannabis business from a healthcare perspective. Prior to entering the cannabis industry, Rodriguez gained experience with healthcare systems while operating as a cabinet member within the Human Services Department, as appointed by former Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico. He explained that his motivations for pursuing collaboration with native tribes were due in part to the many interactions and services provided to tribal nations during his work with the healthcare systems in New Mexico.

Rodriguez can go into detail about the advantage that native tribes would have within the industry. The US government recognizes native tribes as their own sovereign nations. These sovereign nations have latitude when it comes to creating laws within their lands. Whether a state has legalized medical or recreational cannabis, those laws do not bind native tribes. They can create whatever laws suit them when they are on their land. All that the government asks is that the tribes come up with a regulatory model for production and sales. Ideally, the models would be based off of the systems within states that have legalized.

All things considered, Rodriguez confirmed that it would be possible for nations that live in states with no marijuana legislation to build regulations and markets within those states. Through meetings with a number of attorney generals, Rodriguez quickly realized that the attorney generals within the states were far more likely to be supportive of cannabis markets on tribal lands as long as markets existed within the state. It’s obvious that Rodriguez is excited about the future of native tribes and the cannabis business. He explained that since the tribes have certain independence, they will be able to pick and choose which parts of the cannabis industry in which they want to engage. In a way, they will have more freedom than any other businesses within the cannabis field.

As work progresses on the projects with the Paiute Tribe in Las Vegas, Rodriguez explained how reciprocity would be instrumental in the future success of the business. States with reciprocity recognize the legitimacy of out-of-state medical cards, allowing for a medical marijuana patient from New Mexico to buy medical marijuana in Nevada, for instance. While Nevada is not the only state that allows for reciprocity, they have the most expansive and user-friendly policies.

Rodriguez makes it clear that it’s Ultra Health’s goal to first empower tribal nations in states where medical or recreational marijuana exists. He believes that tribes have a unique amount of freedom to create a new network of cannabis businesses and revolutionize the industry as we currently know it. Ultra Health’s dedication to relationships with native tribes was only made more evident when they signed up to be the primary sponsor for the Gathering of Nations Powwow. Ultra Health is the first medical cannabis company to sponsor such an event. Rodriguez described the Gathering of Nations as the “Super Bowl of powwows,” where the main focus is participating in the spiritual and social celebrations. While expanding the influence of native tribes is one priority of the company, Ultra Health is also dedicated to a vision of providing professional, quality healthcare.

Rodriguez is clearly passionate about the work Ultra Health does. Describing himself as a “healthcare junkie,” the company is modeled to be heavily steeped in medicine. Even while pursuing opportunities with tribal nations, Ultra Health is always aspiring towards something new. They recently established a relationship with a pharmaceutical company based out of Israel. It’s another goal of Rodriguez’s to bring more products to the cannabis industry that are typically traditional in the pharmaceutical industry. In partnership with native tribes, he sees a vision for the future aimed at expanding and legitimizing the cannabis industry as a healthcare solution provider.