In New Mexico, thousands of medical cannabis patients jeopardize their health and freedom because of significant delays in reissuing of medical cards. Patients who try to get renewals for their expired cards face time-consuming bureaucracy that delays their marijuana treatment for months.
Now, the Medical Cannabis Program of New Mexico includes nearly 25,000 patients, and 10,000 more applicants signed up within the last year. Though the state has hired more people for issuing medical marijuana cards, the Department of Health remains overloaded with applications.
The process of renewal should last thirty days, which gives patients time to decide when they can submit their paperwork. Unfortunately, the program has experienced a tremendous growth of card applicants within the past five months, and the renewal process might now last for sixty days instead.
Although the Drug and Policy Alliance are leaning pretty heavily on the state to take some action, New Mexico patients continue to suffer from this government snafu. However, the representatives of the department assure that patients can find other options for treatment until they get their cards if they contact their medical providers.
But do they mean the rollback to the dangerous and addictive medications medical cannabis patients have already left behind? While the current situation becomes more dangerous for patients, it plays into the hands of pharmaceutical companies that can receive millions in revenue while people are renewing their legal access to medical marijuana.
This situation may also force patients to break the law because they are not protected under the state medical marijuana program if their card is expired. These patients lose their right to possess and use medical cannabis even if it was legally prescribed and bought. They will also be punished for purchasing marijuana at the black market regardless of how severe their health condition is.
Currently, the department is issuing about 2,700 medical cannabis cards per month and planning to manage the overload by the end of the summer. New Mexico patients are asked to contact the department only if more than 60 days have already passed, so that the agency has more time for processing.
Unfortunately, the department does not have any data on how many medical cannabis cards have already expired. This is very disappointing, as with such information they would be able to single out the most immediate cases and deal with them first.
But until New Mexico gets its act together, medical cannabis patients will continue to fall into the card delay trap and risk being arrested for possessing or any attempts of getting this natural remedy.
Do you think the state government should allow medical cannabis patients to use their expired cards until the system is fixed? Is it right for the patients arrested during this time to sue the state? We will be glad if you share your opinion in the comments below.