NEW MEXICO – The medical cannabis industry is booming in New Mexico. The industry says the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have dramatically increased demand and they’re trying to keep up.
“What we learned was it wasn’t just a New Mexico thing, in fact, the number of transactions have doubled in New Mexico, prices have gone up and the supply is pretty much in a very dire situation, very short,” said Duke Rodriguez, President, and CEO of Ultra Health.
Ultra Health recently commissioned an analysis to determine what was causing the increased demand. It showed from the final quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020 the number of retail transactions nearly doubled.
The analysis also found that medical cannabis patients are at an elevated risk and want more medicine during the pandemic. They say contributing factors are increased loneliness, depression, anxiety, fear, and concern about the future.
Grass Roots RX, a dispensary along San Mateo says they’ve seen a significant increase in purchases. At Zia Health and Wellness, they say they’ve seen an uptick in medical card renewals, especially in people who hadn’t renewed their cards in a few years. With the demand up, Rodriguez says they need to be able to grow more plants.
“We’re up 250%, almost three times what we were the same time last year. This is not just going to be a short term problem, this is going to stay with us so the goal has to be two things, that the state increase the number of plants, allow more plants to be produced so we can bring down the cost, make more available medicine and reduce the level of fear. And number 2, we gotta allow patients to buy what they need,” Rodriguez said.
He went on to say according to the CDC and New Mexico state statute, medical cannabis growers should have a three month supply and right now he says they only have 12 days worth.
The Department of Health says they are always reviewing the data. A spokesperson for the department said they anticipate a 25% increase in plant availability through the relicensing process occurring right now.