Medical cannabis company excited to debut at Gathering of Nations​

By Royale Da / KOAT Action News

Published on April 25, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ultra Health a licensed medical cannabis developer and dispensary is sponsoring the Gathering of Nations. We sat down with Ultra Health's vice president of business, Leonard Salgado.

Q: What will exactly will Ultra Health be doing at the 34th Gathering of Nations?

A: Folks will be there to pass out information like pamphlets, brochures that talk about the medicine and to talk about the program. They'll also help people apply for a medical cannabis program if they qualify.

Q: Who do you hope to reach at this event?

A: People who have things like P.T.S.D., cancer, Parkinsons, chronic pain. There are a number of qualifying conditions and we want people to know there is an alternative to traditional medicine.

Q: How much is this sponsorship costing you?

A: Well, I can't really disclose that but it's a win-win situation for both parties... it could be well over hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future.

Changes for Gathering of Nations this year include a new venue and a unique sponsor

By Rachel Sapin / Albuquerque Business First

Published on April 24, 2017

Not only will this year's Gathering of Nations take place on the new powwow grounds at Expo New Mexico in Albuquerque, but for the first time, a medical cannabis producer will serve as the event's title sponsor.

"The Gathering Of Nations Limited, a nonprofit organization accepted the sponsorship of Ultra Health, (an officially licensed cannabis grower and dispensary in the State of New Mexico, where medical cannabis is legal by New Mexico State law) for all of the positive and financial reasons as they have all other sponsors," Gathering of Nations officials said in a statement. "Ultra Health has demonstrated the ability to provide an ever-growing medical need to all people and a potentially economic opportunity for Native American tribes within in the United States."

Ultra Health CEO and President Duke Rodriguez said it was a natural fit for the nonprofit to support the event, and that Gathering of Nations like Ultra Health, promotes welfare and wellbeing.

"Cannabis in tribal country is likely to be the biggest economic driver and may surpass casinos," Rodriguez said as what he sees as a future economic opportunity for Native Americans.

He said Ultra Health has been actively working with tribes who are in various stages of developing cannabis, though he said he could not disclose who those tribes are.

Ultra Health also sought to sponsor the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta but the event's board denied Ultra Health's sponsorship.

Gathering of Nations was estimated to have a $20 million economic impact in the metro area, with hotels, restaurants and tourism-related businesses taking in the biggest haul.

Organizers expect tens of thousands of visitors to attend this year along with more than 700 tribes from throughout the United States, Canada, and around the world. The three-day event will include more than 3,000 traditional Native American singers and dancers competing for prizes, and more than 800 Native American artisans, craftsmen and traders displaying and selling their work.

Gathering of Nations, the world's largest gathering of Native Americans, will take place this year from April 27-29.

Ultra Health reported $4.9 million in total sales in 2016.

Judge: Medical cannabis grower can stay open for business

By Olivier Uyttebrouck / Albuquerque Journal

Published on April 11, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — After a medical cannabis grower displayed a seedling named Dorothy at the New Mexico State Fair last year, a state agency ordered the company to close its dispensaries for five days this month.
A Santa Fe judge this week overruled the New Mexico Department of Health sanction, ruling that the dispensaries can remain open for business from April 17-21.

DOH issued the sanction in November ordering Ultra Health LLC close its seven dispensaries that week.

First Judicial District Court Judge David Thomson of Santa Fe called Ultra Health’s decision to display a seedling at the fair “at the very best misguided,” but found little support for the five-day suspension.

“The seedling should be treated as medicine and not an item for show and tell,” Thomson wrote in an order issued Monday.

But Thomson also wrote that “the sanction imposed is excessive and without much support in law or regulation.”

Ultra Health had planned to show the seedling for 10 days at a booth the company rented at the fair, but the plant was ejected the first day, on Sept. 8, after fair officials and New Mexico State Police were notified. No arrests were made.

Health department officials told Ultra Health that removing the plant from the company’s Bernalillo production facility violated state law and regulations, which require that cannabis “be housed on secured grounds.”

Duke Rodriguez, owner and CEO of Ultra Health, said the closure coincided with “four-twenty” – the unofficial cannabis celebration on April 20 – which is the nation’s biggest sales day for cannabis.

Rodriguez estimated that the closure would have cost Ultra Health $200,000 in lost revenue had Thomson not ordered the stay.

“We’re very happy that the judge ordered this stay,” Rodriguez said. “Those are literally the five busiest days of the year.”

DOH responded Tuesday that the stay is only temporary until Thomson holds a full hearing, which had not been scheduled Tuesday.

“We feel the five-day suspension and fine is appropriate action for discipline based on the rules governing the program,” DOH spokesman Paul Rhien said in a written statement. DOH also fined Ultra Health $100, which Thomson approved.

“The primary role of the state Medical Cannabis Program is to provide patients with safe access to medicine and a regulated system,” the statement said. “We will continue to defend the sanctions as we allow the legal process to run its course.”

New Mexico Health Department, dispensary in legal battle

By Aaron Drawhorn / KRQE

Published on April 10, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) A different kind of display at the New Mexico State Fair turned into a big battle. A medical marijuana dispensary won Monday’s legal victory, but the New Mexico Department of Health vows to fight on with its sanction against Ultra Health.

“420 is symbolic within the cannabis culture,” said Leonard Salgado, vice president for business development for Ultra Health.

The state wants Ultra Health’s seven dispensaries in five New Mexico counties to be closed from April 17 through April 21.

“The financial impact to our organization would be anywhere from $180,000 to $200,000 statewide,” Salgado said.

That sanction goes back to the State Fair and Ultra Health’s display of a pot plant.

“Basically they claimed that having a single seedling at the State Fair was a violation of our production plan,” Salgado said.

A judge on Monday granted the dispensary a stay, which means, for now, the state can’t shut the dispensaries down for five days.

“It’s a real win for the patient because they can continue to have access to that medication,” he said.

But Santa Fe District Judge David Thomson also wrote that the dispensary’s display “was at the very best misguided and the Department of Health is rightly concerned.”

Thomson added, “The seedling should be treated as medicine and not an item for show and tell.”

No one from the Department of Health could go on camera, but in a statement said in part, “We feel the five-day suspension and [$100] fine is appropriate action for discipline based on the rules governing the [medical cannabis] program.”

“We emphasize that the NMDOH Medical Cannabis Program carefully considered patients when determining sanctions against New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health. If the sanction is upheld, patients will not lose access to medicine because of this disciplinary action as there are other Licensed Non-Profit Producers (LNPPs) available in the same communities where New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health operates,” the statement said.

“Today’s stay is not the final ruling. It simply puts a hold on NMDOH enforcing these sanctions until the full appeal is heard in District Court. We will continue to defend the sanctions as we allow the legal process to run its course,” the state said on Monday.

Both the dispensary and the state say they will fight vigorously in District Court.

The judge did keep that $100 fine in place.

Last year, Ultra Health said the state of New Mexico has more than $50 million in sales related to medical cannabis.

New Mexico Judge Grants Stay to Halt NMDOH Proposed Sanction

Ruling allows Ultra Health’s seven locations to remain open during year’s biggest sales week

 

(Santa Fe) – Santa Fe District Judge David K. Thomson granted Ultra Health a stay Monday from the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) proposed sanction for bringing Dorothy, a 3-week-old cannabis seedling, to the New Mexico State Fair on September 8, 2016.

 

“[The] Court finds that the Petitioner [Ultra Health] will likely prevail on the merits of their arguments that the sanction imposed is excessive and without much support in law or regulation,” Judge Thomson said in his order.

 

The judge ordered a motion to stay the sanction of ceasing Ultra Health’s operations for five consecutive days and that Ultra Health must still pay the proposed $100 fine.

 

Continue reading "New Mexico Judge Grants Stay to Halt NMDOH Proposed Sanction"

First US cannabis pharmaceutical lab launches in NM, says Ultra Health

By Shelby Perea / Albuquerque Business First

Published on March 3, 2017 

When people think about cannabis, the imagery of smokey clouds and exhaling smoke usually comes to mind. But you won't see any of that at this new pharmaceutical lab in Bernalillo. That's because Ultra Health's new facility manufactures smokeless and pre-dosed cannabis medicine.

Arizona-based Ultra Health said the lab is the first pharmaceutical cannabis production facility in the country.

Ultra Health is joining forces with Panaxia Pharmaceuticals Industries Ltd., an Israeli company established in 2010, to produce the medicine. Panaxia will be providing smokeless proprietary cannabinoid dosage and treatment protocols. Those protocols aren't easily accessible in the U.S., according to a release. Ultra Health will also be implementing some of Panaxia's technology for the new facility.

The cannabis products offered will include tablets, candy-like food, oils and patches that go through the skin.

Ultra Health CEO and President Duke Rodriguez said in a statement the new products provide a fully potent and targeted dose that is customized for each patient. Patients will have the option to get products with either THC, CBD or products with both.

"It is history in the making for an Israeli company to bring the tidings to the citizens of New Mexico," said Panaxia CEO Dadi Segal in a statement.

Segal also said that he believes both companies will be launching additional facilities in the coming months.

Albuquerque Business First reported last year the medical marijuana was a booming industry. It became one of the few New Mexican sectors that had strong growth while New Mexico was making its way out of the Great Recession. The Medical Cannabis Program’s total industry revenues from 2015 to 2016 increased by $19.7 million, resulting in $50,638,520 and a growth of 64 percent.

DOH and cannabis producer have their day in court

By Any Lyman / The NM Political Report

Published on April 3, 2017

A New Mexico state agency and a medical cannabis company argued in a state district court Monday morning whether the state’s punishment of the company was warranted.

Santa Fe District Court Judge David Thompson heard from both the state’s Department of Health (DOH) and a lawyer representing medical cannabis producer New Mexico Top Organics-Ultra Health about whether the company will have to shut down retail operations for five days later this month.

The department claims Ultra Health violated the state’s medical cannabis program rules by moving a plant out of their approved growing and retail facilities and into the public.

The pending sanction is a result of a cannabis plant Ultra Health used in an exhibit at the New Mexico State Fair last September. The plant Ultra Health brought to the State Fair was non-flowering, meaning it was not mature enough to be used for consumption..

The department ordered Ultra Health to halt all sales for five days last fall, but the punishment was delayed after Ultra Health appealed the decision. Ultra Health filed a motion to stop the sanction, arguing the punishment is unjust and the company would see irreparable harm as a result. Both parties eventually argued their cases to a hearing officer.

Santa Fe attorney and New Mexico Speaker of the House Brian Egolf, a Democrat, represented Ultra Health in court on Monday. Egolf asked Thompson to reject the sanction, arguing the plant in question was not mature enough for production and that his client would see a significant loss of business, especially over the new proposed dates.

Last month, DOH secretary Lynn Gallagher ordered the company to close its doors from April 17 to April 21, which encompasses what Ultra Health calls “the biggest cannabis purchasing day of the year,” April 20, or 4/20.

The number 420 is often associated with cannabis use.

Egolf argued the punishment was comparable to businesses that violate health codes.

“It’s not like they need to shut down a restaurant because the kitchen is dirty,” he said.

Ultra Health’s clients, Egolf said, would be “disrupted in their routine” and may risk not having medicine for those five days.

DOH’s lawyer Chris Woodward said patients wouldn’t be adversely affected because there are other cannabis producers in the state.

“This is a relatively free market and patients can go wherever they want,” Woodward said.

Ultra Health’s Director of Operations Leigh Jenke testified shutting down retail operations would create a backstock of product and could cause other issues.

“There would be a storage problem and that could open us to possible safety problems,” Kenke said.

Kenny Vigil, who manages the state’s medical cannabis program, testified that Ultra Health has complained in the past that the company is on the verge of a cannabis shortage. Vigil also said the five-day shutdown is a suitable punishment for Ultra Health.

In an answer to Egolf, Vigil revealed that the punishment may be a message to other producers who think about breaking a similar rule.

Egolf asked Vigil what harm the state department may suffer if the judge decides to stop the sanction.

“It could also make other [medical cannabis] producers wonder, ‘Maybe we can get away with something,’” Vigil said.

Thompson said he would issue a ruling by the end of the week.