Medical Marijuana Program Built to Fail

     SANTA FE, N.M. (CN) — A baby with intractable epilepsy can be treated with nonpsychoactive cannabis oil, but New Mexico refuses to license enough medical marijuana growers to make the medicine she needs, her mother says in a lawsuit against the state.
     Nicole Sena’s infant daughter suffers from a rare form of epilepsy with intractable seizures that do not respond to traditional medications.
     The only treatment Sena has found to help her daughter is a cannabis oil called Haleigh’s Hope, which is high in cannabidiol, a cannabis compound without psychotropic effect, and little or no THC, which is the compound that gets users high.
     Haleigh’s Hope stopped the baby’s seizures, allowed her cognitive development to resume, and she showed daily improvement on the treatment.
     But Haleigh’s Hope is not easy to make.
     “Producing Haleigh’s Hope requires a volume of cannabis plant material that is far greater than any other cannabis product,” Sena says in the Aug. 16 complaint in Santa Fe County Court. “It requires at least four times the amount of raw plant material as compared to other specialized products.”
     But New Mexico limits medical marijuana producers to 450 plants and seedlings at a time, so the state’s licensed nonprofit growers and producers cannot afford to grow and refine the cannabis oil that Sena’s daughter needs.
     New Mexico Top Organics – Ultra Health, a licensed nonprofit producer in New Mexico and co-plaintiff, wants to manufacture Haleigh’s Hope, but due to the plant limits it cannot.
     The lawsuit examines the numbers for New Mexico’s medical marijuana program.
     For 25,568 enrolled patients as of June 2016 — an increase of more than 10,000 patients from June 2015 — there are only 45 licensed nonprofit producers, each of them limited to 450 plants: male, female and seedlings: 568 patients per grower; less than one plant per patient.
     “Demand for medical cannabis exceeds supply by at least 2.1 million grams (4,522 pounds),” the complaint states. “By early 2018, demand is expected to exceed supply by at least 6.2 million grams (13,603 pounds).”
     Sena says she had to move out of New Mexico to a neighboring state to find the supply of Haleigh’s Hope her daughter needs.
     She asks the court to order New Mexico’s Department of Health to lift the 450-plant limit, which she calls “arbitrary” and unsupported by “factual, practical, scientific or economic data,” so that medical marijuana patients can have access to medicine they need.
     “Unless the arbitrary plant count is eliminated or greatly increased, by at least 600 percent, there will be persistent and ongoing shortages of medical cannabis in New Mexico for the foreseeable future,” Sena says in the complaint.She is represented by Brian Egolf with Egolf, Ferlic & Harwood, in Albuquerque

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