Medical marijuana rules change for New Mexico visitors

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico has stopped issuing medical marijuana enrollment cards to people who live outside the state but will soon allow nonresident patients enrolled in other state programs to buy pot.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday reinstated a residency requirement for participation in the state’s medical cannabis program by signing a measure passed by lawmakers. Marijuana is only legal for medical use in New Mexico.

At least 613 people who don’t live in the state have enrolled in the medical pot program since the residency requirement was dropped last year. State health officials say that change was inadvertent and invited problems with U.S. authorities by potentially diverting marijuana outside a regulated system.

New Mexico will begin recognizing medical marijuana enrollment cards from other states starting on July 1, under a reciprocity rule recently signed by Health Secretary Kathyleen Kunkel.

Medical marijuana program director Dominick Zurlo says the new rule will allow dispensaries to recognize cards from all states that have legalized medical pot, including neighboring Texas, where medical pot is limited to low concentrations of the drug’s psychoactive ingredient, THC.

Zurlo noted that it’s still illegal to transport medical marijuana across state lines and that the goal of recognizing out-of-state cards is to allow patients to access cannabis just like other medications.

Residency requirements were restored Thursday based on an emergency clause and a two-thirds vote of the state House and Senate, Kunkel said on the sidelines of a news conference at the close of the legislative session.

Medical cannabis company Ultra Health had gone to court to try to keep enrollment in New Mexico’s medical marijuana program open to nonresidents. A district court ruled in the company’s favor before the law was changed this week.