By Jacqueline Devine / Alamogordo Daily News
Published on August 28, 2017
Ultra Health, New Mexico’s number one medical cannabis company, will officially be opening its doors today and will be in service seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
This will be Ultra Health’s eighth location in New Mexico. The opening comes after a long-awaited inspection from the New Mexico Department of Health.
According to a press release from Ultra Health, it initially submitted its amendment to open a dispensary in Alamogordo in May 2016. There are currently more than 45,000 enrollees in the state’s Medical Cannabis Program, 980 are from Otero County.
The Medical Cannabis Program was made possible by the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act which was passed by the New Mexico Legislature in 2007.
The Senate bill states that licensed producers are exclusively granted the authority to produce, possess, distribute and dispense cannabis.
“There is a current limitation on how many plants a producer can grow in New Mexico, the cap is at 450 plants. It is the most restrictive model and regulation that any state department has made for producers producing medical cannabis,” said Ultra Health Communications Manager Marissa Novel. "The New Mexico Department of Health took it upon themselves to assume that we were unable to stock our dispensary in Alamogordo because of the plant count that they put in regulation. We believe they are now recognizing those rights, that’s why they finally let us open the store. We bought 200 pounds of cannabis to stock this dispensary.”
Novel said Ultra Health is excited to show the community what they have to offer despite some negative reactions.
“We’re excited to finally engage with the community on a personal level,” said Novel. “I think the stigma really comes from a lot of the propaganda that has been in our country for so long. It basically wanted to scare people into thinking that cannabis was a dangerous drug and that it shouldn’t be used. I think it’s taken a while for the country to overcome that propaganda that was issued by the government and the media.”
According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), currently there are two main cannabinoids from the marijuana plant that are of medical interest, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
THC can increase appetite and reduce nausea. THC may also decrease pain, inflammation (swelling and redness) and muscle control problems, according to NIH.
Unlike THC, CBD is a cannabinoid that doesn’t involve giving patients a high. It may be useful in reducing pain and inflammation, controlling epileptic seizures and possibly even treating mental illness and addictions, according to NIH.
“Chronic pain is the second largest qualifying condition that people in New Mexico need to have to qualify for medical cannabis,” said Novel. “Granted, I will say there is still a lot of research coming out on cannabis and the side effects but I think the message is for people that have exhausted all other methods to medicate safely. A lot of times it’s cheaper than other medications would be.”
“We think that’s important because this is all a part of our effort to give medical cannabis patients in rural communities access to a full time dispensary so they don’t have to drive hours on end to seek an alternative method for medication," said Ultra Health Communications Manager Marissa Novel
According to NIH’s website, many researchers, including those funded by the NIH are continuing to explore the possible uses of THC, CBD and other cannabinoids for medical treatment.
However, the cannabinoids has led to two Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved medications that contain cannabinoid chemicals in pill form. Continued research may lead to more medications.
Novel said the dispensary in town will be extremely beneficial to the community because there is almost 1,000 certified patients and counting in the county.
“I think it is especially important to the community being that there was no other dispensary in Otero County. There are 980 patients, almost 1,000, living in Otero County and this is the first dispensary location that they’ve had,” she said. “We think that’s important because this is all a part of our effort to give medical cannabis patients in rural communities access to a full time dispensary so they don’t have to drive hours on end to seek an alternative method for medication.”
Novel said Ultra Health offers a variety of medical cannabis products that include concentrated oils to baked goods containing the cannabis.
“We have the flower which is the regular cannabis in plant form. There are edibles such as baked goods, concentrates and concentrated oils from the flower that people can use,” said Novel. “We currently partnered with an Israeli pharmaceutical company that manufactures medical cannabis into oral tablets and sublingual tablets that dissolve under the tongue. Plus we also offer patches that can be worn discreetly and much more.”
Anyone interested in applying for the Medical Cannabis Program can download an application on the New Mexico Department of Health’s website.
“Before people send in their application to the Department of Health, they must need a nurse practitioner or a doctor to certify them for medical cannabis,” said Novel. “They will give them an exam and give them a recommendation. The application would need to be mailed to the New Mexico Department of Health. The examinations may cost up to $100 but the card is free from the Department of Health.”
On Friday, Ultra Health is inviting the community to join them for their grand opening ceremony.
Novel said Ultra Health will be giving away prizes and more. Peace Medical will also be onsite and will be offering free consultations on how to obtain a medical cannabis card. Medical providers will also be in attendance to complete certifications.
For more information on obtaining a medical cannabis ID card visit the NMDOH’s website.